Stalin was famous for his conception of “polished cinema,” featuring “conflictless drama,” and in the charming comedy “Beautiful Summer,” troublesome, oft-banned director Boris Barnet gave him what he wanted. Set just after WWII, pic describes life on a Ukrainian collective in idyllic images of lush fields of ripe wheat, waiting to be harvested by giggling peasant girls who compete with one another for the title of model agricultural worker.
With two pretty heroines, two handsome heroes and lots of cows, Barnet concocts a lively comedy pivoting around unspoken feelings of love. Nazar (Nikolai Kryuchkov), the farm’s director, wonders if love and jealousy are the outmoded remnants of capitalism. He’s in love with Oksana and afraid she’s got her eye on his war buddy-cum-chief accountant, Pyotr (Mikhail Kuznetsov). But Pyotr likes another model worker named Vera (Nina Arkhipova), who raises the farm’s milk quota by giving the cows extra feed. Characters frequently burst into song and, let it be said, their joy is contagious.