Anniversary of the film “Ivan Vasilyevich is changing his profession”: Natalya Krachkovskaya, who had lost weight, was fattened with buns and pasta

Yuri Yakovlev (left) was surprised: after editing, the “unfunny” material turned into a sparkling comedy.

Yuri Yakovlev (left) was surprised: after editing, the “unfunny” material turned into a sparkling comedy.


Komsomolskaya Pravda studied what was left behind the scenes.

Nikulin turned down the main role

“The film could have been completely different,” said Vladimir Tsukerman, director of the Museum of Three Actors (Nikulin, Vitsin, Morgunov), right away. – Ten years before the premiere in the Archangel Cathedral of the Kremlin, scientists opened the tomb of Ivan the Terrible. Anthropologists reconstructed the king’s appearance from the skull. Nina Grebeshkova, seeing the portrait in the magazine “Science and Life”, ran to her husband Leonid Gaidai: “Lenya, this is a copy of Yura (Nikulin – Ed.)! That’s what needs to be removed!” Gaidai and humorist Vladlen Bakhnov have just started working on a comedy based on Bulgakov’s play “Ivan Vasilyevich.” They wrote the script “for Nikulin.” But he categorically refused to play the tsar-house manager: “This is a banned writer. The film will be put on the shelf.” Having later watched “Ivan Vasilyevich…”, Nikulin was very upset that he refused to act in film.

Gaidai’s wife was sure: Nikulin is very similar to Ivan the Terrible!  Photo: Still from the film

Gaidai’s wife was sure: Nikulin is very similar to Ivan the Terrible! Photo: Still from the film

– How did Gaidai take Nikulin’s refusal?

– Very hard. Leonid Iovovich hoped with his help to avoid friction with censorship. Remember Nikulin’s phrase in “Prisoner of the Caucasus”: “By the way, in a neighboring area the groom stole a party member”? She was supposed to be voiced by Frunzik Mkrtchyan. Censorship prohibited. And in the mouth of the Goonies it was a ride.

Gaidai would have taken Nikulin without testing. Now we had to organize “shows”: Evgeny Evstigneev, star of the Leningrad Bolshoi Drama Theater Evgeny Lebedev, Georgy Vitsin.

Ivan groznyj.  Photo: IEA RAS/Editors

Ivan groznyj. Photo: IEA RAS/Editors

– Well, which Vitsin is Ivan the Terrible?

– Normal! I have a photo of his samples. But all three did not suit the director. Someone recommended Yuri Yakovlev. “He’s a Ryazanov actor!” – Gaidai exclaimed. But the very first tests showed: this is the ideal choice!

If Tsar Nikulin had been Tsar Nikulin, Andrei Mironov would have played Georges Miloslavsky. Their tandem worked brilliantly in “The Diamond Arm”. I had to look for another actor for Yakovlev. There were many candidates for the role of Miloslavsky: Anatoly Kuznetsov, Vyacheslav Nevinny, Sergei Nikonenko, two Georgies – Burkov and Yumatov. Gaidai chose Leonid Kuravlev. It was Kuravlev who came up with the phrase that became popular: “Citizens! Keep your money in a savings bank, if you have it, of course.”

– Shurik, of course, was cast in the role of the inventor of the time machine without auditioning.

– He had a competitor – Oleg Vidov. But still, Gaidai chose Shurik, sorry, Alexander Sergeevich Demyanenko. He even gave his character his first name. In Bulgakov’s play, the inventor was called Nikolai Ivanovich. And they left their natural dark hair color. In previous comedies, Shurik was painted blond. What a bright image!

His movie wife Zinochka (actress Natalya Selezneva) also had to withstand competition with two other namesakes: Zharikova and Gundareva.

Under a double surname

“But Natalya Krachkovskaya was hired without any tests for the role of Ulyana Andreevna, Bunsha’s wife,” continues Vladimir Tsukerman. – On the set of “Ivan Vasilyevich…” Natalya Leonidovna caught pneumonia. After the illness, I lost ten kilograms. Gaidai forced her to eat up in order to regain her former curvaceous figure. He prescribed a strict “diet”: daily – semolina porridge with whipped cream, buns with butter, boiled macaroni and cheese. And only half a month later he was allowed onto the site.

This is exactly what, according to the director, the wife of the house manager, Bunshi, should have looked like.  Photo: Still from the film

This is exactly what, according to the director, the wife of the house manager, Bunshi, should have looked like. Photo: Still from the film

– Why is she Belogortseva-Krachkovskaya in the credits?

– There was another actress in the USSR, Natalya Krachkovskaya, her husband’s sister. So they added Natalya Leonidovna’s maiden name Belogortsev.

“Pugovkin will show you!”

– Without auditions, Gaidai took two other actors: Vladimir Etush for the role of dentist Shpak and Mikhail Pugovkin for the role of director Yakin. True, there was a hitch with Pugovkin. At the artistic council, a number of Mosfilm directors spoke out against it. They say his face is unintelligent and does not correspond to the appearance of a Soviet film director. Grigory Chukhrai, head of the Experimental Creative Association, where the comedy was filmed, spoke in defense of Mikhail Ivanovich. “Comrade directors! You think too well of yourself. Pugovkin will show you what types there are among you.”

The Kremlin didn’t register

– Were there any problems with censorship?

– Of course. In the “meal” scene, Bunsha asked: “Wait a minute! At whose expense is this banquet? Who will pay? According to the script, Miloslavsky answered: “People, father, people.” In the film, the answer is different: “At least not us!”

A police lieutenant interrogates Ivan the Terrible: “Where do you live?” – “Moscow Kremlin”. The censors considered the answer sacrilege. I had to replace it with a neutral one: “In the wards.”

But even more episodes were cut out by Gaidai himself. Shortened the lengths. From the cut-out footage they even made a short film “Black Gloves”, in which Miloslavsky robbed Shpak’s apartment. It is easy to find on the Internet. Remember when the burglar accidentally discovered a bar in the wall? The scene of him trying the drink was cut out. The scenes of the police chasing Miloslavsky were shortened. He still escapes. Happy, sitting on the ship between two ladies. And suddenly – bam! – There are already two policemen sitting on the sides. Gotcha, darling!


“It wasn’t funny at all”

“Besides my love for Bulgakov, it was tempting to play two roles at once, especially from Gaidai,” wrote Yuri Yakovlev in his book “Between the Past and the Future.” – I was surprised: how does such a gloomy person make comedies? He did not like jokes, chatter between takes, and never laughed, like Ryazanov, during a funny scene.

My task was to play Ivan Vasilyevich at the same time as a powerful ruler and funny – because of the unimaginable situations in which he finds himself, and Bunshu – such a typical, narrow-minded and fussy little boss poking his nose everywhere. Gaidai rarely, but aptly intervened in the process, and showed very well as an actor.

Photo: Still from the film

Photo: Still from the film

Almost the entire film was shot in a rough version, that is, without editing. Gaidai invited the group to watch. I looked and was upset. Everything was somehow slow, disorganized, especially in the scenes with Kuravlev, which is very disappointing, since Miloslavsky – his character – should be alive, mobile like mercury, but here everything is somehow waddling, in no hurry. And absolutely not funny. I’m driving from Mosfilm and thinking: “What will it be? Failure?” But I didn’t know at all about Gaidai’s brilliant ability to work in the editing room. He was a virtuoso! How everything came together, came to life, began to play, what a rhythm appeared! How he managed to shorten something without compromising the role, to highlight the most successful parts, to place accents. Just a metamorphosis!


What Ivan the Terrible whispered to “boyary” Zina

One of the iconic scenes of the comedy is Ivan Vasilyevich whispering something in the ear of the charming Zinochka. She laughs seductively. Director Yakin is simply cringing with jealousy. But what funny did the king say to the beauty?

“Everyone asks about this moment,” actress Natalya Selezneva later said. – He told me: “Natasha, I have 10 minutes, I’m late for the performance!” I understood what it was like to be late for a performance, but at the same time I had to flirt and laugh uncontrollably!


Drama by Sergei Filippov

The Swedish ambassador Sergei Filippov (right) played brilliantly. It has its own story, a dramatic one. In “12 Chairs” he played Kisa Vorobyaninov. While filming, I suddenly began to forget the words. A brain tumor was discovered. They had an operation. The actor was ill for a long time and died alone. To support the veteran and encourage him, Gaidai gave him episodic roles in his films.


The Tambov wolf is your boyar!

Walled up, demons!

This is what the life-giving cross does!

Wow, what a beauty! Babble!

I am tormented by vague doubts…

Everybody dance!

Everything, everything that he had acquired through backbreaking labor, still perished! Three tape recorders, three foreign movie cameras, three domestic cigarette cases, a suede jacket… three… jackets.

And you will be cured, and you will also be cured, and I will be cured…

Caviar black, red. Overseas caviar, eggplant!

The Tambov wolf is your boyar!

Well, king, we shuddered!


Shpak’s gramophone was stolen

Mikhail Bulgakov wrote the play “Ivan Vasilyevich” in 1935 for the Satire Theater. On May 13, 1936, a dress rehearsal of the performance took place. With the participation of workers of the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party of Bolsheviks. The play was immediately banned. It was first published only in 1965.

Many phrases in the comedy, which the audience later laughed at, were from Bulgakov:

“Leave me, old lady, I’m sad…”

“I am tormented by vague doubts.”

“Pack, pack… Like cherubs!”

“I don’t recognize you in makeup.”

True, instead of “I demand the continuation of the banquet!” the intoxicated Bunsha said: “I demand that the dance continue!”

Since there were no tape recorders and suede jackets under Bulgakov, the famous phrase of the robbed Shpak sounded like this: “A gramophone, a cigarette case, a lighter, a watch, a carpet coat, a suit, a hat… everything that he acquired through back-breaking labor, everything was lost!..”

There was no mention of overseas caviar, eggplant, in the play at all.

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