CINEMA: RED BLUES

SOVIET-ERA MUSICALS LIVE AGAIN IN EAST SIDE STORY

There's one simple explanation for the triumph of capitalism over Soviet communism: we had Astaire and Marilyn; all they had were boy-loves-tractor pictures. As the battle of the ideologies was fought on movie screens around the world, the edifying drabness of Soviet-bloc films couldn't compete with America's glamorous, sexy, lilting pop culture. As Dana Ranga, director of the terrific documentary East Side Story, puts it, "A specter was haunting communism: the specter of Hollywood."

Now and then, Communist filmmakers tried entertaining the masses with what the official press derisively called "the most flagrant offspring of the capitalist pleasure industry": musical comedies....

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