Nationality: Czech. Born: 1920. Education: Attended E. F. Burian School. Family: Married the actress Jana Brejchová. Career: Member of the Na Vinohradech Theatre, Prague. Awards: Best Actor, Berlin Festival, for Jacob der Lügner, 1975; Artist of Merit, Czechoslovakia.
Films as Actor:
Uloupená hranice (The Stolen Frontier) (Weiss)
Tajemství krve (The Secret of Blood; The Mystery of Blood) (Frič)
Zářijové noci (Jasný)
Mezi nebem a zemi (Between Heaven and Earth) (Podskalský)
Pět z milionů (Brynych)
Až přijde kocour (That Cat) (Jasný); Transport z rje (Transport from Paradise) (Brynych)
Každý den odvahu (Everyday Courage; Courage for Everyday) (Schorm)
Povídky z prvń republiky (Krejčík); Ztracena tvar (The Lost Face) (Hobl)
Lidé z maringotek (People on Wheels) (Frič); Ostře sledované vlaky (Closely Watched Trains; Closely Observed Trains) (Menzel) (as Councilor Zednićek); Spadla s měsice (The Girl from the Moon; Never Strike a Woman with a Flower) (Podskalský)
Rozmarné léto (Capricious Summer) (Menzel) (as Major Hugo); Zločin v šantánu (Crime in a Night Club) (Menzel) (as Minister of the Interior); Farářuv konec (End of a Priest) (Schorm) (as Sexton); Vsichni dobri rodaci (All My Good Countrymen) (Jasný); Skrivanci na niti (Larks on a String) (Menzel) (as professor for literature)
Kam čert nemuže (Where the Devil Cannot Get; A Devilish Honeymoon) (Podskalský)
Jakob der Lügner (Jacob the Liar) (Beyer) (title role); Tak laska Zacina (Bocan)
At ziji duchove (Lipsky); Smrt nacerno (Toman)
Talíre nad Velkym Malikovem (Flying Saucers Coming!; Flying Saucers over Our Town) (Jireš); Zitra vstanu a oparim se cajem (Polak)
Od zitrka necaruji (Polak); Poplach v oblacich (Polak); Tchan (Mika)
Tajemny hrad v Karpatech (Mystery Castle in the Carpathians) (Lipsky) (as Ignac)
Pocitani ovecek (Kachyna)
A csoda vege (Veszi)
Oci pro plac (Mika)
Neni Sirotek Jako Sirotek (Strnad)
Sasek a kralovna (Chytilová) (as Vaclav); Smich se lepi na paty (Bocan); Chobotnice Z II. Patra (Polak) (as Grandfather Holan)
The Flying Sneaker (Pojar) (as Dr. Renc); Labyrinth (Jireš)
V centru filmu—v teple domova (In the Center of Film—In the Warmth of Home) (Janecek, Marek—for TV) (as Himself)
Zdravý nemocný Vlastimilený Brodský (Havelka) (as Himself); Návrat ztraceného ráje (Return to Paradise Lost) (Jasny)
By BRODSKÝ: book—
Tidbits from a Soul Hock Shop (autobiography), 1995.
On BRODSKÝ: article—
Film a doba (Prague), no. 11, 1975.
Film a doba (Prague), July 1986.
* * *
A multitalented actor who performs in the theater and on film, television, and radio, Vlastimil Brodský is closely linked with the entire postwar development of Czech filmmaking, in which he began to work after some stage experience following the end of World War II. He has made more than 90 films, in which he portrayed the most diverse human characters, good and evil, tragic and comic, within an extraordinary rich expressive range. Despite the universality of his characterizations, we can discern prevalent features of his acting. He imbues his characters with a deeply human quality, and has therefore become identified first and foremost with the unsentimental, average man, the everyday hero.
At the outset of his acting career Brodský appeared only as youthful characters in brief scenes. From the theater he brought to the screen fine diction and a particular gift for movement (originally he had wanted to be a dancer). His first great success came in 1953, when he performed in Martin Frič's The Mystery of Blood. Here for the first time he created the type of role that would assert itself in his work more and more strongly—a hero of everyday life. The critics were enthusiastic about his performance, but in the years that followed, the cinema was unable to offer him roles that matched the level of his talent. In 1958 he met the director Zdeněk Podskalský during their work on the film Between Heaven and Earth. Brodský conceived the story and also played the leading role, that of a pretty clerk who is given the courage to stand up to injustice only by the anticipation of impending death. Here Podskalský, a specialist in film humor, gives Brodský his first opportunity to use the comic side of his genius. Brodský went on to develop this talent in collaborations with Podskalský on subsequent films, including Where the Devil Cannot Get, The Girl from the Moon, The White Lady, and Night at Karlštejn.
Brodský's unique comedic talent has been put to good use by many directors in dozens of minor and major parts. But the best acting opportunities were offered to him by the directors of the Czech New Wave in the sixties—Vojtěch Jasný in That Cat, Evald Schorm in Courage for Everyday and End of a Priest, and Jiří Menzel in Capricious Summer and Larks on a String. These directors made it possible for Brodský to develop another talent, one that would eventually become predominant: the ability to express, under a veneer of seeming lightness, sadness caused by the external contrast between ideals and their realization in life and the irreversible flow of time. Brodský then applied the whole range of his mature acting in varying degrees in films—for the last time in Too Noisy Solitude after Bohumil Hrabal—on television, and in the theater, although he had already stopped appearing regularly on stage. In his inimitable noblesse he tells us his experience as an actor, his life story, and his declaration of humanity in his autobiography, Tidbits from a Soul Hock Shop, published in 1995.