Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Shop On Main Street

The Shop on Main Street: In a small humble Slovak town in Czechoslovakia, an inept poor carpenter, Tono Brtko is assigned "Aryanizator" of a small shop on the main street.  The post has been given by his facist brother-in law, Mark Kolkotsky whom is arrogant and egotistical and is blaming Tono for not rising to higher rank in the army. He offers Tono the post as the controller of a button shop owned by an old jewish widow.  Tono's greedy wife Evelyn is seduced with the promise of fortune, but Tono finds that the shop owned by the deaf and senile seventy year-old widow, Rozalie Lautman is bankrupted and the old lady is financially supported by the Jewish community that promises a salary to him to help her.  Tono is disappointed with the arrangement, but he befriends the old widow and develops a sincere friendship with her.  He helps her improve the shop with his carpentry skills and repairs her furniture. He keeps his wife happy by informing her that he has taken over the shop as master and brings home the salary.  When the jews are expelled from the town by the fascist law, Tono decides to protect the old widow, putting his own life at risk. 

Ladislaw Grosman wrote the short novel The Trap, which later became The Shop On Main Street.  The story was written with a very humanistic approach and has a sense of raw truthfulness.  The film at times comedic, is a picture of Slovak fascism with all the provincialism and with its consequences all the more horrifying.  Centered around the friendship of Tono Brtko and Rozalie Lautman, the author, whom is a master of style  wove into the story the tragedy of fascism in the life of a very simple old woman, among the many jews that were expelled and exterminated.

This is one of the most emotive films I have seen, set During WWII, The film was made near the height of Soviet oppression in Czechoslovakia and features beautiful cinematography in the verite style with intense editing and camera work which won it the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film in 1965.  

The film is directed by master filmmakers Jan Kadar and Andelmar Klos.  Starring Jozef Kroner as Tono and Ida Kaminska as the widow Rozalie Lautman.

125 MIN


  1. Thank you for the review. I have never seen this film,thank you for opening my eyes to films I've have not had the chance to see. You should start your own Film Festival!

  2. A film festival would be my dream! Thanks for your comment.

  3. Despite the tragedy of war, Tono managed to lovingly protect the old woman from all of the horrors and that is the beauty of this well written and well performed film. You have written a very good review.

  4. This sounds like an interesting film. Thanks for sharing your review. I hope this movie makes people realize the importance of world peace by showing how ugly wars are.