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Green Gold (Starci na Chmelu) (1964)

The Czechs never even did Communism the same way as other East Bloc countries, did they? You've probably never seen a musical film like this before with subtitles straight from a pocket dictionary and lyrics like "Let dogmatists have their say. Let them state their sick beliefs. And only healthy polemics may bring at last some remedy!" It's a sort of Expresso Bongo in the Bohemian hopfields with a Czech version of The Shadows acting as sort of Greek chorus. The students from some college are working their summer holidays on the hop harvest, and as we drinkers  all know aromatic Czech hops such as Saaz provided, as the film points out, and still provide vital hard currency. We're never quite sure why the students are being exhorted to strip up to twenty bushels of hops a day with their bare hands when in the big shed there's a machine that the bines can be hooked on to - better for hearty dance routines presumably. A chaste love blossoms between the sensitive Filip and the apparently conceited Hanka. Filip has made a secret hideaway in the loft above the dormitories where the other students doss. Filip who reads Seneca and writes his own stumbling poetry , takes us into his fantasy where their radiating happiness reflects itself positively in their work in the hopfield. It's the Filipova Metoda - the students pair up like doves and work together as love improves productivity and even Czech TV sends an OB unit to do a report! Honza is a Flashman character who mocks and challenges Filip for the affections of Hanka  and shops the pair to the supervising lecturer but when the couple are suspended for misconduct the other students ostracise him. Two other alternative titles are The Hop Pickers, and Hop Side Story - yes there's a fight-dance sequence that could easily be the Sharks and the Jets. It's become quite a cult and has twice been revived on the Prague stage in post-Communist times. 

Be careful - you may end up without any Anglisky Titulky - cheap magazine give-away discs, like I did first time! A sure bet is www.cdmusic.cz but their shop's search engine is a bit cumbersome, so a better bet is to Google "starci na chmelu"+"www.cdmusic.cz" including the quotes.

©RKW