An offbeat war film that effortlessly leaps from drama to comedy to tragedy to musical and back again, “A Good Lad” is rumored to have been very popular on the front during WWII. It was never released commercially and was the third film by prolific helmer Boris Barnet to have gotten banned. Delightfully eccentric in tone and filled with amusing, well-drawn characters, its simple survivalist-patriotism has genuinely touching moments.
A group of Russian partisans, rough folk from the far east of the Soviet Union, have set up camp in the woods where they fight the German invaders. The arrival of a civilized French pilot (Viktor Dobrovolsky) sparks a light-hearted romance with a pretty partisan girl (O. Yakunina), while the sudden appearance of an opera singer (Nikolai Bogolyubov) gives Barnet the chance to stage a number of movingly sung arias about fighting and loss. Quite breathtaking is the beautiful song he sings on a beach, which draws a group of homeless women listeners. The story, never particularly believable, gradually focuses on the partisans’ efforts to destroy a secret German airfield.