Nationality: Russian. Born: Tyomino, Russia, 24 June 1908.
Films as Actress:
Vrazhdiye tropy (Dangerous Paths) (Ivan Pravov and Olga Preobrazhenskaya)
Bogataya nevesta (The Rich Bride) (Ivan Pyryev) (as Marinka)
Traktoristy (Tractor-Drivers) (Ivan Pyryev) (as Mar'iana Bazhan)
Lyubimaya devushka (The Beloved) ) (Ivan Pyryev)
Svinarka i pastukh (Swineherd and Shepherd) (Ivan Pyryev) (as Glasha Novikova)
Sekretar raykoma (The Partisans)
V shest chasov vechera posle voiny (Six P.M. After the War) (Ivan Pyryev) (as Varya Pankova)
Skazaniye o zemle sibirskoi (Ballad of Siberia) (as Natasha Malinina)
Kubanskie kazaki (Cossacks of the Kuban) (Ivan Pyryev) (as Galina Ermolayevna Peresvetova)
Ispytaniye vernosti (Trustworthiness Test) (K. Pyryev and Ivan Pyryev)
On LADYNINA: books—
Zorkaya, Neya. The Illustrated History of Soviet Cinema, New York, 1989.
On LADYNINA: films—
Ranga, Dana, director, East Side Story (documentary), 1997.* * *
Marina Ladynina debuted in Vrazhdiye tropy (1935), directed by veterans Ivan Pravov and Olga Preobrazhenskaya. For the rest of her career in cinema, however, she worked exclusively with film director Ivan Pyryev, who, along with Grigoriy Aleksandrov, was the leading author of Soviet musical comedies, one of the few well-developed popular genres within the system of Stalinist film culture. The making of musical comedies was encouraged by a decree which Boris Shumiatski, administrative head of Soviet cinema at the time, issued in 1935 and in which cinema was recommended to focus on making "movies for the millions." Ladynina's career directly reflects this directive—she was an actress with whom millions of viewers could identify.
Unlike Aleksandrov's leading lady, dazzling mega star Lyubov Orlova, Ladynina was a comedienne with a special talent for character parts. She was a short, fast-talking, funny, down-to-earth girl with intense blue eyes and a turned-up nose, and she usually appeared surrounded by an entourage of cheerful peasant girlfriends. While Orlova's natural milieu was the world of elaborate stage performances involving lavish interiors and glamorous outfits, Ladynina's world was inhabited by Stakhanovite shock workers, amateur wood carvers, and good-natured shepherds. Similarly, while Grigoriy Aleksandrov's films were considered a more refined entertainment value, Pyryev's films conveyed straightforward propaganda messages which make them look particularly implausible and contrived from today's point of view. As a rule, Pyryev's films featured working class protagonists—tractor drivers, farm workers—and were known for their hyperbolization of prosperity and the happiness of Soviet life at collective farms. Film historian Neya Zorkaya has noted that even though all these films were marketed as true to life, they completely neglected any realist criteria and promoted a myth of high achieving Kolkhoz mode, or production, at times when agriculture was undergoing a serious crisis.
Ladynina fully realized her onscreen identity-as the simple-hearted, joyful, and hard-working Soviet peasant girl—after appearing in Bogataya nevesta (1938). Marinka, her heroine in the film, a young girl with two suitors, is not rich in the literal sense: her wealth comes from the government appreciation of her work achievements. After this film, a series of similar roles in similar films followed. Most of these musical comedies were scripted by Viktor Gusev, and Ladynina's role in each one of them was inevitably a variation of the prototype tested in Bogataya nevesta—a hard working, cheerful, witty, and class conscious peasant girl. Her roles in musicals immediately preceding World War Two all fall under the tested recipe of socialist optimist entertainment. Even though conspicuously non-compliant with the socialist realist straitjacket, Pyryev was making yet another film of the same kind every year, and Ladynina got the chance to star in Traktoristy (1939), Lyubimaya devushka (1940), and Svinarka i pastukh (1941). For these films she was regularly paired with actor Nikolai Kryuchkov.
Leading Soviet composer Tikhon Khrennikov, who authored the music for two of Pyryev's films, co-starred with Ladynina in both instances. While in Svinarka i pastukh (1941) Khrennikov only had a supporting role, later on he became her main partner for the romantic comedy V shest chasov vechera posle voiny (1944), one of the few films made and released under the difficult war-time conditions, while most filmmaking activity was put on hold. Due to the combination of propaganda and entertainment in his work, Pyryev was one of the few directors who had the chance to make not just one but two films during the war; Ladynina also starred in his partisan war-time drama Sekretar raykoma (1942), written by Iosif Prut, in which she played a functionary of the Communist Party district committee engaged in resistance activities.
After the war Ladynina was cast in several more movies by Pyryev—in the musical drama Skazaniye o zemle sibirskoy (1947) and the musical comedy Kubanskie kazaki (1949). Kubanskie kazaki was believed to have been made with direct interference from Stalin, and is considered an extreme example of an idealized and exaggerated representation of reality. Ladynina's last appearance was in the romantic drama Ispytaniye vernosti (1954).
For Kubanskie kazaki and Ispytaniye vernosti, Pyryev used musical scores by Isaak Dunayevsky, the prominent film composer who regularly worked with the other titan of the Soviet musical, Grigoriy Aleksandrov. Dunayevski had also written the music for Pyryev's early Bogataya nevesta (1938), released in the same year as Aleksandrov's Volga-Volga. Thus, while Aleksandrov and Pyryev may represent two different branches in the tradition of the Stalinist musical, it is important to underscore that they branch out from Dunayevsky's music.
In 1997 German director Dana Ranga made the documentary East Side Story, a cinematic investigation into the history of the Stalinist musical. The film features extensive commentary by historian Maya Turovskaya, who discusses the opportunism and social conformity of Pyryev's cinematic work. In this documentary Marina Ladynina appears in a selection of clips from Traktoristy (1939), Svinarka i pastukh (1941), V shest chasov vechera posle voiny (1944), and Kubanskie kazaki (1949).