Masquerade (Maskarad) (1943)

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Filmed just before Russia's entry into WW II, Masquerade is based on the famous 19th-century verse tragedy by Lermontov. Nikolai Mordvinov plays Arbenin, whose love for his wife Nina (Tamara Makarova) borders on the obsessive. Believing Nina to be unfaithful, Arbenin feels he has no choice but to kill her. Only during the lady's funeral does Arbenin discover that he's been tragically mistaken -- whereupon he goes into a frenzy of Dostoyevskian suffering and self-flagellation. Writer/director Sergei Gerasimov (who also played a small role in Masquerade) was never satisfied with this film, feeling that the picture was "haphazard and unplanned" and that he'd failed to do full honor to Lermantov's genius; other observers were far kinder to the film, hailing it as one of Gerasimov's best works. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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