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  Who Wants to Kill Jessie? Cartoon HeroesBuy this film here.
Year: 1966
Director: Václav Vorlícek
Stars: Dana Medrická, Jirí Sovák, Olga Schoberová, Juraj Visny, Karel Effa, Vladmír Mensik, Ilja Racek, Karel Houska, Walter Taub, Bedrich Prokos, Cestmír Randa, Otto Simánek, Svatopluk Skládal, Frantisek Holar, Jan Libícek
Genre: Comedy, Fantasy
Rating:  8 (from 2 votes)
Review: Jindrich (Jirí Sovák) is a professor and engineer at one of the city's factories, but work is not going well especially as he can't find a way of transporting heavy goods and parts without the workmen accidentally dropping them. His wife Ruzenka (Dana Mendrická) on the other hand is enjoying far more success with her science project, which is all to do with the power of dreams. She hooks a troubled cow up to a machine she has invented which displays dreams and shows that it is bothered by nightmares of gadflies which affect its milk production, but one injection with the special serum and it's cured - although now the room is filled with flies, for some odd reason...

Before the Communist clampdown in 1968, Czechoslovakia in the mid-sixties was enjoying a more liberal political atmosphere which was reflected in the films the country produced at the time, and Who Wants to Kill Jessie? was one of them. It was scripted with Milos Macourek by Václav Vorlícek, a director who would go on to be more associated with his fairy tale works as he stayed behind in his home country while many of his fellow artists escaped. Whimsy is the order of the day here, but there is a social conscience in evidence in the film.

Predominantly it's a comedy of course, and it's not long before madcap mayhem is being wreaked around Prague by the characters. While at work, Jindrich has picked up a comic book left by one of his assistants (all of whom are attractive, dark-haired young women, funnily enough) and has become enamoured of the invention the fictional heroine - called Jessie - has devised to give her super strength. These are a pair of gloves, but now her two foes, a cowboy and a Superman-style hero, are out to secure the secret of them.

All well and good, but Jindrich is so obsessed that by bedtime he starts to dream about Jessie and her adversaries, so restlessly that his wife injects him with the serum. Big mistake, as when Jindrich wakes up in the morning he finds he's lying next to a beautiful, blonde, flesh and blood Jessie (Olga Schoberová, soon to be Olinka Berova, one of the few international Czech sex symbols). And as if that wasn't shocking enough, the cowboy (Karel Effa) and superman (Juraj Visny) are here too, in the process of smashing up the apartment looking for Jessie.

Vorlícek's film is a delight, and if it's not consistently laugh out loud funny then it is frequently amusing, witty without lapsing into out of control silliness. Ruzenka must develop a serum to counteract the dream people (who, being comic characters only speak in speech bubbles), but before she has a chance to the three of them run riot through the city, causing much consternation as the baddies try to capture and even kill the goodie. Poor Jindrich ends up thrown in prison for his part in this, a sly commentary on thought crimes perhaps? Although the troublemaking duo of comic characters are recognisably American, symbols of how Western democracy could turn the Communists upside down, maybe? Whatever, the film is packed with charming quirks (and a lot of bondage if you like that kind of thing) with a happy ending that is as ridiculous as it is romantic. Music by Svatopluk Havelka.

Aka: Kdo Chce Zabít Jessii?
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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