Pugachev (1937)

Genres - Historical Film, Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Biopic [feature], Period Film  |   Run Time - 120 min.  |   Countries - Russia  |  
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Synopsis by Hal Erickson

This Russian semi-musical is apparently based on a true story. K. Skorogatov stars as Pugachev, a dimwitted 18th-century Cossack who becomes obsessed with the notion that he's actually a Czar. To finance his "kingdom," Pugachev and his followers go on a wide-ranging robbery spree. Finally captured, he is sentenced to death by Catherine the Great, marching to his death with a smile on his lips and a song in his throat. The film was criticized upon its first release for its depiction of Pugachev as an illiterate dunderhead; after all, there were those in the audience who still regarded him as a folk hero (this certainly wasn't the first instance of Soviet revisionism!)