The beginnings of film comedy

The second theme which dominated the storylines of Slovak feature films in the two immediate postwar decades was comedy, the first example of which – Ján Kadár’s Katka (1949) – also drew on the ‘awakening’ film tradition. It tells the story of a young woman who decides to leave the backward and agrarian rural environment for the world of urban industrialisation and progress. The comic effect is based on the confrontation of the illusions of the main character a new reality.
This was Kadár’s only Slovak feature film; in 1952 he began working in Prague in tandem with director Elmar Klos and in 1970 he emigrated to the USA. In this film he created a situation comedy featuring a simple but attractively-told story, with an inventive direction and excellent performances by the cast. It is proof of the fact that period-determined agitation pieces can be made with lightness and creativity.
The film adaptation of Janko Jesenský’s short story Štvorylka (‘The Quadrille’, 1955), directed by Jozef Medveď, was one of several films which marked the culmination of the development of the comedy film in Slovak cinema. Its excellence is reflected in the quality of the story with its inventive social satire of the Slovak petit bourgeois environment from the beginning of the 20th century, witty dialogues and caricatures of small human weaknesses. The film language and dynamic camera work (by Karol Krška) is also outstanding. Thanks to the social-satirical orientation of the literary work on which it was based, this film avoided period-piece ideologising and became one of the finest works of Slovak film comedy.