Ladislav Rychman, 84, director

Artist was a staple in Prague theater

Ladislav Rychman, director of the Czech smash hit communist-era musical “The Hop Pickers,” died in Prague April 1. He was 84.

The survivor of a Nazi concentration camp, Rychman studied film after the war at FAMU, the same film school Oscar winners Milos Forman and Jiri Menzel later would attend.

After working in theater in Prague, Rychman apprenticed in film under the tutelage of Borivoj Zeman and Elmar Klos, and worked in all genres from documentary to Czech Television variety programs, for which he created a precursor to the music video in 1958, known as “staged songs.”

Having demonstrated an alacrity for pop music on camera, Rychman struck gold in 1964 with “The Hop Pickers,” a tale of romance among high school volunteer work crews at harvest time. Two young lovers, one to become a teen heartthrob, Vladimir Pucholt, run afoul of the central planners and are kicked out of the labor co-op in the musical, which some still refer to as “Hop Side Story.”

Jirina Bohdalova, a Czech actress who starred in Rychman’s “Lady on the Tracks” in 1968, about a tram driver who uses sex appeal to win back a straying husband, recalled Rychman as “a pioneer of Czech musicals” whom audiences forgot after the Velvet Revolution of 1989.

Her film, which turned out to constitute one of the best-remembered roles for Bohdanova, a frequent star of the 1960s Czechoslovak film world, was called “a socialist fairy tale — as cheery and optimistic as a Tide commercial” in a New York Times review of November 1968.

That year saw the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia, under which Rychman’s career went into decline. He continued to work into the mid-90s and, though he never again drove audiences as wild, witnessed generations of teens enthralled by the guitar-slinging numbers in “The Hop Pickers,” which still gets television and film fest play today.

More Scene

  • CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 19: Robert

    Robert Pattinson Helps HFPA Donate $500,000 to Refugee Organization at Cannes Event

    The Hollywood Foreign Press Association proved in Cannes Sunday night that the Golden Globes aren’t the only festive bash it can pull off each year. At the glamorous Nikki Beach party held in association with Participant Media, the HFPA donated $500,000 to international aid organization Help Refugees. Co-hosts Robert Pattinson and Helen Mirren along with Quentin [...]

  • Mj Rodriguez, Alexis Martin Woodall, Ryan

    Peabody Winners Talk Empowered Women and Social Justice Challenges on Red Carpet

    The theme on the red carpet at the 78th annual Peabody Awards? Empowering women. On Saturday, Peabody winners gathered at Cipriani Wall Street, and one of the hot topics on everyone’s mind was the wave of female empowerment spreading across the industry. From Peabody’s Career Achievement Award recipient Rita Moreno to shows like ‘Killing Eve’ [...]


    Cannes: Robert Pattinson, Shailene Woodley Attend Starry Vanity Fair Party

    It’s true what they say about Batman being a loner. On Saturday night, Robert Pattinson made his first public appearance since being cast as the new Dark Knight at this year’s Vanity Fair Party at the Cannes Film Festival. But while all the other A-list guests mingled and worked the crowd at the restaurant of [...]

  • Taron Egerton Cannes Film Festival 2019

    Taron Egerton Addresses ‘Rocketman’ Comparisons to ‘Bohemian Rhapsody,’ Takes Subtle Jab at Bryan Singer

    Taron Egerton says that he’s flattered by comparisons between his Elton John musical “Rocketman” and “Bohemian Rhapsody,” last year’s smash hit about Queen frontman Freddie Mercury. “I’m proud that we’re mentioned in the same breath,” says Egerton, who plays John in the upcoming “Rocketman,” which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival to a five-minute standing [...]

  • Ethan Hawke, Bobby Cannavale and Griffin

    BAM Gala Marks Leadership Change, Celebrates Brooklyn as 'Cultural Center of New York'

    Wednesday’s annual gala celebrating the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) served as a poignant moment of transition for the New York stalwart of contemporary performance. As long-time artistic director Joe Melillo, who along with Harvey Lichtenstein transformed BAM into a vanguard of progressive art, prepares to pass the torch to new leadership, gathered patrons and [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content