Scriptwriter: Liya Geraskina
Director: Tatyana Lukashevich
Cast: Vasily Lanovoy, Vadim Grachev, Galina Lyapina, Tamara Kirsanova, Aleksandr Susnin, Vladimir Emelyanov, Vladimir Kenigson, Mikhail Derzhavin, Tatyana Pelttser
The scheme of a youth film on the topic of how a collective returns a character who has broken away from it into its fold, came to our cinema from the repertoire of the 1930s-40s children’s theater. It came from the plays by Valentina Lyubimova (based on one of them, Yakov Protazanov made his tortured "Seventh Graders"), from Sergey Mikhalkov's "The Red Tie". They, especially Mikhalkov’s play, clearly inspired Liya Geraskina when she wrote the play "Certificate of Maturity" (1950), which at the time was performed on the stages of many theaters in the country. The connections are obvious. The hero of "The Red Tie" was named Valery, in " Certificate of Maturity" it’s Valentin. In Mikhalkov’s play, he refuses to make a wall newspaper, and in Geraskina’s, he bungles up the decoration of the "working room" with a lathe. In Mikhalkov’s play, he is expelled from the Young Pioneers, in Geraskina’s - from the Komsomol. Both authors make the hero’s father a big boss. Finally, both plays feature a noble and principled sister (in Mikhalkov's play it’s the hero's sister, in Geraskina's play it the sister of a friend).
In the film version of “Certificate of Maturity”, Valentin Listovsky, while hiking in the mountains, found himself on the edge of an abyss. Komsomol organizer Zhenya saved him. The scene took on a clearly symbolic character. It was the abyss of individualism into which the hero could have fallen if it had not been for the collective who came to the rescue.
Meanwhile, the 1954 film directed by Tatyana Lukashevich, with all the characteristics of the big style of 1950 with its pompous interiors and unrelieved pretentious texts that could be said only by declaiming, turned out to be one of the first harbingers of a new era in cinema. "A Justification or a Condemnation of the Hero?" read the title of a review in the journal “Iskusstvo kino” [The Art of Cinema] (1954, No. 9).
But it was simple. The schema contained a trap. An individualist is an individualist precisely in order to have a pronounced individuality. And the collective’s inherent features are "typical" in the first place. At the middle school age, this is not so noticeable, that is why all the characters in "Seventh Graders" and "The Red Tie" have a similar type, like twin brothers. A 17-year-old boy is another matter. The creator of "The Foundling" Tatyana Lukashevich, being a professional, was looking for a performer for the leading role who would attract attention at first sight. A student who just got into the Shchukin Theater Intitute, Vasily Lanovoy, with his flashy romantic appearance and sonorous voice, turned out to be the perfect option. The Demon’s costume at the masquerade more than suits him. And Vika’s friend Klava sees traces of Pechorin in him for a reason. His expressiveness is accentuated by the fundamental facelessness of the collective. Note that, if one looks closely, among his classmates one can see Lev Borisov and Vladimir Zemlyanikin, Mikhail Derzhavin, Gennady Yalovich, and the future writer and dean of the Literary Institute Sergey Esin. The common face of the collective is Vadim Grachev in the role of Komsomol organizer Zhenya - a perfectly featureless actor. As a result, Lanovoy was the one who became a star: girls had always fallen in love with all sorts of "superfluous" people, in books and on the screen, neglecting Komsomol secretaries.
It was not possible to convince the viewer that Valentin was not the most intelligent, talented, and, most importantly, handsome, as the school director tried to suggest in the film. And it seems that the authors did not really want to. The camera admires Lanovoy openly and deservedly - finally, a face out of the ordinary! And intonations out of the ordinary - in a totally serious environment, he alone allows himself irony. And he reads poetry. But irony and poetry will become the hallmark of the young hero of the Thaw. Moreover - the most mundane texts in the mouth of Lanovoy sound wonderfully natural and organic. In the place of an “egoist”, there is a vulnerable, emotionally complex young man. The drama actually lies in the fact that he is not grown up enough to be an individualist - the prospect of loneliness does not inspire him yet but terrifies him. That is why he is convincing in the exam scene, when he delivers a monologue about the strength of the collective, barely holding back tears. The intonation here is dictated by a sincere, purely childish fear of being left alone. Such a hero will be learning how to be alone in the future.