"Goalkeeper" - the first Soviet film about football

In the thirties of the last century, Soviet cinema took its first steps, therefore, the release of each film was a real holiday for the audience. And films about sports were a real rarity. Only at the beginning of 1937, the first film dedicated to football was released. The ancestor of Soviet sports cinema was the film "Goalkeeper", directed by Semyon Timoshenko at the Lenfilm studio.

The script for the film was written in 1935 by Lev Kassil in collaboration with the famous director and screenwriter Lazar Yudin. The main character was the Volga loader Anton Candidov, who, with his ability to catch watermelons while unloading, impressed the Moscow footballer so much that he received an invitation to become the goalkeeper of the Hydraer team. Soon Kandidov became the strongest goalkeeper in the country, having received an invitation to the national team of the Soviet Union.

The young actor of the Kharkov theater Anton Pluzhnik was invited to play the role of Anton Kandidov. In order for Pluzhnik to look convincingly in the image of the strongest goalkeeper of the Soviet Union on the set, he was sent for an internship at Dynamo Kiev. Looking ahead, it should be noted that after the release of the film "Goalkeeper" the actor received several invitations from football teams, so convincingly he played his role. And the best goalkeepers of the Soviet Union (Yashin, Maslachenko, Rudakov) recalled that they got into the goal after watching the film "Goalkeeper".

To participate in the filming were attracted players from Kiev "Dynamo". Attentive viewers could have noticed that the gates of the professional team "Black Buffaloes" in the film are protected by Anton Idzkovsky, and their captain was Konstantin Shchegotsky. Moreover, the football masters were so carried away that Dynamo Kiev even missed the USSR Football Cup. It was officially announced that this was due to the illness of several of the club's main players. But, the sports officials found out what was the matter and made the players a suggestion for such willfulness.

The film was first shown in cinemas across the country in January 1937. He was especially popular with young football players, and the best guardians of the courtyard football gates received the honorary nickname "Candidov". Strict critics met the appearance on the screens of "Goalkeeper" much more restrained. Noting the indisputable skill of the footballers who played in the film, they reproached the director and scriptwriters for paying too much attention to Anton Kandidov's love relationship with the designer Nastya.

Especially for the film, the poet V. I. Lebedev-Kumach and the composer I. O. Dunaevsky wrote "Sports March", which became no less popular in the USSR than the motion picture itself. And the writer Lev Kassil, inspired by his success, decided to remake the script into a full-fledged novel called "The Goalkeeper of the Republic".

The plot of the film was quite consistent with the spirit of that time, a simple Volga guy Anton Kandidov makes a dizzying sports career in a matter of months, and Soviet football players defeat the legendary professional club "Black Buffaloes". Moreover, it is not just anyone who scores the winning goal, but the goalkeeper Kandidov himself, who boldly rushed into the attack in the last seconds of the meeting.

A few years after filming the film "Goalkeeper", the career of the actor Grigory Pluzhnik was interrupted by the Great Patriotic War. Junior Lieutenant Pluzhnik took part in the Battle of Stalingrad, liberated Romania, was awarded the medals "For Military Merit" and "For the Defense of Stalingrad". Returning from the front, Pluzhnik again starred in several films, but could not repeat the past success. For the audience, he will forever remain the goalkeeper Anton Kandidov. The actor died in 1973 in Moscow and was buried at the Dolgoprudnenskoye cemetery.

But the director Semyon Timoshenko, years later, returned to the football theme. In 1954 he directed the comedy "The Reserve Player". The young footballer Vasya Vesnushkin, who was included in the starting lineup of the Blue Arrows team, first scores two goals to an opponent, and then takes a place in the goal, replacing the injured goalkeeper. And reflects the penalty. Interestingly, the role of young Vasya Vesnushkin was played by the wonderful Soviet actor Georgy Vitsin, who at that time was already 37 years old.

Many spectators were worried about the question: did goalkeeper Anton Kandidov have a prototype? There was talk that Kassil "copied" Kandidov from one of the strongest football goalkeepers of the USSR in the thirties, Anatoly Akimov. In 1958, the writer gave the former football player a copy of his book with a dedication. In which, by the way, it was reported that it was Akimov who became the prototype of Kandidov.

But, on the script for the film "Goalkeeper" Lev Kassil began working in 1935. At this time, Anatoly Akimov was the reserve goalkeeper of the Moscow “Spartak” and only occasionally came out as a substitute. All-Union popularity came to him later.