The District Secretary
, 91min, russOmeU
Another rarity, the very first partisan film produced during wartime to enrage and inspire, SEKRETAR’ RAYKOMA was directed by another Stalin Award-winning artist, Ivan Pyryev, a man often labeled as the high priest of orthodox Stalinist cinema. But unlike Mark Donskoy, who reportedly thrived under Stalin by playing a village idiot, Pyryev meant business, and never pulled any punches when glamorizing the glories of Soviet life or demonizing anything that might threaten it. SEKRETAR’ RAYKOMA was commissioned to demonstrate how the local partisan rebellion must step up when the official Red Army pauses to reorganize. And nothing can indeed stop Stepan Gavrilovich Kochet, the eponymous secretary, in assembling a partisan unit and starting his own private guerilla war with the Nazis. Although Pyryev delivered unprecedented fire and fury, he was, interestingly enough, only the second choice to helm the film, having mostly been known for musical comedies and dramas previously. The original director Efim Dzigan was removed from the set under accusations of nepotism after the supervising committee complained about the poor performance by actress Raisa Esipova, who happened to be Dzigan’s wife.