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February 2007, Week 4


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"Larsson, Donald F" <[log in to unmask]>
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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Sat, 24 Feb 2007 20:55:51 -0600
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This may seem like a strange question, but I wonder if anyone knows why the Russian (actually Ukrainian) song "Ochi Chernye" ("Dark Eyes") turns up in a number of American films in the 1930s, usually in a comical way.  It's "practiced " endlessly by Mischa Auer in MY MAN GODFREY, used as a ruse by Fred Astaire in SHALL WE DANCE, and rather alarmingly trilled by Gloria Jean in NEVER GIVE A SUCKER AN EVEN BREAK.  It's clear that the song was well-known enough to function as a signifier for "Russian-ness" but was its use prompted by a particular recording or musician in the 1930s?  
Don Larsson
"Nothing is ever the same as they said it was.  It's what I've never seen before that I recognize."  --Diane Arbus

Donald F. Larsson
Department of English, AH 230
Minnesota State University
Mankato, MN  56001
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