Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Finnish Independence Day Special 3: Silver from Across the Border (Hopeaa rajan takaa)

Silver from Across the Border (Hopeaa rajan takaa)
Fennada-Filmi, Finland, 1963. 

Based on Esa Anttala's novel about his own adventures during the Interim Peace. 

It is 1941, a time between the Winter War and the Continuation War. Two young Winter War veterans Esa Anttala (Veikko Kerttula) and Esa Wist (Jaakko Pakkasvirta) are trying to sneak across the Finnish-Soviet border to retrieve other Wist's father's silverware that was hidden in the lost Karelian territory. The treasure can't be left to the Soviets! Their first attempt fails and they get temporarily arrested by Finnish guards. After getting free they decide to recruit a third man to help carry the silver, a fun-loving ladies' man named Toivo Paukku (Pertti "Spede" Pasanen). 
Jaakko Pakkasvirta and Veikko Kerttula
Esa Wist and Esa Anttala
Pertti "Spede" Pasanen
Toivo Paukku
They plan to visit their old houses but the Communists have let the buildings go ramshackled. Also the war has destroyed many landmark buildings that they once knew and loved. The trio is always in danger of getting caught. They can not even boil tea without nosy Russians asking why they are not working for the kolkhoz. Digging the treasure up from the ruins is dangerous and informers lurk everywhere. On the return trip they wander in the middle of Red Army war games. Can they ever get back alive?
'Friendly' Russian offers some tea
Rampaging border guards
This film is unavailable with English subtitles. All of the three main actors would later direct their own films. It is worthwhile to note that this was the rare serious role of Finnish comedy legend Spede Pasanen. Well, serious and serious. His presence in the story brings humour to the story, but he can also perform a dramatic role as Toivo is in bad physical shape and constantly a risk to the mission. He also gets panicky and fears that they will get captured. The excitement gets on their nerves but they still stick together. This is quite light adventure with some thrills, bushwhacking, stealthy sneaking and bawdy songs. From the small elements it manages to build entertainingly thrilling climax. It is considered a minor work by director Mikko Niskanen. The 60s music feels often anachronistic but brings also the feeling of men carrying out an impossible mission.

Rating: Good

Starring: Jaakko Pakkasvirta, Spede Pasanen, Veikko Kerttula, Esko Tuomi, Erkki Ertama, Rauno Lehtinen, Aaro Kurkela, Martti Saarikivi, Anja Ahlström, Marja Mosander, Sirkka Nirvi, Max Rand, Pentti Saaritsa, Juha Virkkunen, Holger Blommila, Matti Lehtelä, Ilkka Liikanen, Paavo Kuoppala, Lennart Lauramaa, Boris Levitsky, Kaija Snellman 
Director: Mikko Niskanen 

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