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Czechoslovakia, 1967
Directed by Miloš Forman
Starring Jan Vostrčil, Josef Šebánek, Josef Valnoha
Approx. 77 min. New DCP Restoration.

Bad day for the fire brigade: during the dance honoring their chief’s retirement the raffle prizes, a penitent thief is caught by too-quick light up after a no-questions-asked blackout, causing a debate whether his attempted return was judicious; the beauty pageant suffers from a paucity of willing girls; and a halt for an actual alarm is prolonged when that darned fire just won’t go out. The chief’s final close-up is one for the ages. 


“A brilliant satire of the Communist state in which a volunteer fire department attempts to throw a party for their one-time boss on his birthday with disastrous results. Although it hits its satiric targets with pinpoint accuracy, it is never cruel towards its characters and indeed, there is a certain sweetness and sympathy to Forman’s approach that prevents it from degenerating into a mere screed.”
– Roger Ebert

“A delicious parody-fable of Slavic bureaucracy.”

“Forman’s comedy is special. The timing and involutions of the humor are such that there is escalating laughter, while an awareness of the sadness of things — real fire, monumental pettiness — deepens as well.”
– Renata Adler, The New York Times

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