As a screenwriter, Miloš Macourek contributed to two unforgettable gangster comedies – Kdo chce zabít Jessii (Who Wants to Kill Jessie, 1966), directed by Václav Vorlíček, and “Čtyři vraždy stačí, drahoušku...” (Four Murders Are Enough, Darling, 1970) by Oldřich Lipský. In both instances, the artist Kája Saudek was also involved in the fray. Whereas Jessie imbues the ordinary Czech milieu with characters and elements from an “American” comic strip, Oldrich Lipský’s film throws itself headlong into comic exaggeration. Both films use cartoon elements, but Macourek and Lipský’s work creates a coherent fictional world set in the imaginary “Western” country of Bonzania. The film was loosely inspired by the humorous novel Mrtvým vstup zakázán (No Admittance for the Dead), by the Yugoslav author Nenad Brixi from 1960, but its atmosphere and milieu reflect the impending period of Soviet entrenchment that occurred in Czechoslovak society during the “normalisation” that followed the Warsaw Pact invasion. Nonetheless, this crazy cartoon comedy abounds in visual and formal ideas as well as absurd “messages” that produce a barrage of gags, and yet it evidently reflects a desire to escape – at least in comic fiction – beyond the iron curtain that was coming down under increasing totalitarianism. Secondary school teacher George Camel (played by the director’s brother Lubomír) is one of Macourek’s traditional timorous ingénus, who one day discovers that as soon as he opens a door, a corpse falls out. It seems that George has got mixed up in a war between two bands of gangsters fighting over a cheque for a million dollars. The Hitchcockian story of a man wrongly accused of a crime is peopled with many colourful characters, including George’s love interest, the energetic journalist, Sabrina (Jiřina Bohdalová), and the female crime boss, Kate (Iva Janžurová). The ensemble cast comprises the crème de la crème of the Czech acting fraternity as well as some of Lipský’s favourite actors, e.g. Marie Rosůlková as Camel’s landlady and Josef Hlinomaz as the memorable tough guy Gogo.
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