Synopsis by Clarke Fountain
Isaac Babel was a popular writer in the 1920s and 1930s who fell victim to Stalin's "purges". His exact date of death was never established. It's assumed that he died in 1940. Understandably, his works were not published again until the '60s. Another reason why his works were not adapted to the screen earlier was the pervasive anti-Semitic attitude among the state and communist bureaucracy during the Soviet times. Bindyuzhnik i Korol is a musical based on Isaac Babel's works. It was much hyped but it wasn't a huge success. Maxim Leonidov, who played Benya Krik (the "king") in the movie, was a handsome-looking leading singer from the popular Leningrad beat quartet "Sekret". "Sekret" was a Russian hommage to The Beatles. Shortly after starring in the movie, Leonidov immigrated to Israel, where he organized another band. In the story, set in the Jewish quarter of a Russian city, Mendel Krik (Armen Dzhigarkhanyan) is the wealthy owner of a large livery stable (the "drayman") who lords it over everyone who comes in his path, especially his two grown sons, whom he plans to disinherit. One of his sons, Benya, is far cleverer than his critical wrath of a father thinks, and manages to take his father's business away from him. This musical generally has a somber tone, and resembles the dark, serious works of Bertold Brecht rather than the much lighter tone of Fiddler on the Roof, with which it has sometimes been compared.