Sunday, June 4, 2017

Public Diplomacy-related: Cross-Culturalism Goes Off the Charts

Mark H. Teeter shared Moscow TV Tonite's post. [from Facebook]
MOSCOW TV TONITE: Cross-Culturalism Goes Off the Charts
Mackenna's Gold/Золото Маккены (USA,1969)(Kultura, 22:00)
--> Occasionally a social phenomenon in Country A is more appreciated by the cultural consumers of Country B than it is at home: the modest Italian pizza turns into an enormous American industry; Jerry Lewis becomes a Légion d'Honneur laureate in France; and so on. Welp, J. Lee Thompson’s “Mackenna’s Gold” is a fine example of a cross-culturalism-goes-wild event“Gold” was a big-budget flop of an oater whose huge and star-studded cast --incl. Gregory Peck, Omar Sharif, Telly Savalas, Eli Wallach, Edward G. Robinson, Lee J. Cobb, Raymond Massey, Julie Newmar, and many more -- ambled its way through a plot so confusing that a voice-over narration had to be added above the Heck (Гэк) Allen script to give audiences a fighting chance of understanding what the Гэк was going on.
U.S. critics panned this big ol' wandering Western – Vincent Canby of the NY Times summed it up nicely as “stunning absurdity” – and audiences stayed away in droves, leaving “Gold” well short of making back even half its budget on domestic ticket sales. Ah, but then cross-cultural fever struck...
As the societal chroniclers Marie-Janine Calic rather drily summed it up in “The Crisis of Socialist Modernity: The Soviet Union and Yugoslavia in the 1970s" (2011), “Mackenna's Gold” was “released internationally to some success,” especially here: “The film was popular in the Soviet Union. ‘Mackenna's Gold’ was first shown at the VIII Moscow International Film Festival in 1973, followed by a cinematic premiere in 1974. The film was viewed by 63 million people and now stands fourth in the all-time rating of a foreign film distribution in the Soviet Union. The title song ‘Old Turkey Buzzard’ was dubbed with Russian lyrics by Leonid Derbenyov, a Russian poet and lyricist widely regarded as one of the stalwarts of 20th-century Soviet and Russian pop music. It was performed by then-popular Soviet singer Valery Obodzinsky.”
Seriously. If you ask around, you’ll find a surprising number of middle aged Russians who don’t just *remember* “Mackenna’s Gold” – they *grew up* on it, going back time and again to revisit those thrilling days of yesteryear when gold-grubbing on horseback was king. Briefly put, for reasons both fathomable and un- , “MacK's G” is many Russians’ idea of a Classic Western. Why do you think it’s featured on Kultura tonite under their Cinema for All Times rubric? Because one of those many Russians works at Kultura. More, probably.
Anyway, tune in (or watch online below) and try to figure out for yourself which end is up, plot-wise and culture-exchangeably. Two things are certain about this out-of-country blockbuster: it’s 2 hrs. of your life you’ll never get back; but you may well understand France and Jerry Lewis a little better afterwards.
JB comment to the post:

John Brown A Russian "angle" I just found out about: "Screenwriter Carl Foreman and composer Dimitri Tiomkin [] joined up to coproduce Mackenna's Gold."

(May 10, 1894 – November 11, 1979) was a Russian-born American film composer and conductor. Musically…

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