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Episode 339: Closely Watched Trains (1966)

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The Projection Booth Podcast

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Special Guests: Jiri Menzel, Peter Hames
Guest Co-Hosts: Jonathan Owen, Samm Deighan

We kick off the first annual "Czechtember" with a look at the most-easily accessible films of the Czech New Wave, the charmingly disarming 1966 film Closely Watched Trains (AKA Ostre Sledované Vlaky or Closely Observed Trains). Co-written and directed by Jirí Menzel and based upon Bohumil Hrabal's novella, the film stars Václav Neckár as Milos Hrma, a young man from a family of eccentrics. Not wanting to work too hard, he gets a job at the local railway station where he's mentored by the earthly Hubicka (Josef Somr) and Nazi-sympathizer Zednicek (Vlastimil Brodský).

Samm Deighan and Jonathan Owen (author of Avant-garde to New Wave: Czechoslovak Cinema, Surrealism and the Sixties) join Mike to discuss Menzel's subversive film and the way it plays with "sex comedy" themes against the backdrop of Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia.

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