Is it possible to imagine Soviet cinema without such films as "The White Sun of the Desert", "Prisoner of the Caucasus", "The Diamond Hand", "Gentlemen of Fortune"? Perhaps this is impossible. But they appeared at the box office only thanks to the personal participation of Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev. Moreover, the highest-grossing film in the history of our cinema, "Pirates of the Twentieth Century", could have been on the shelf for a long time if the General Secretary of the CPSU Central Committee had not accidentally watched it.
In 1967 Leonid Gaidai finished shooting the film "Prisoner of the Caucasus". According to the plot, student Shurik ended up in the Caucasus, where such adventures happened to him that horrified the commission from the State Committee for Cinematography: a bride is kidnapped in the Soviet Union, Yuri Nikulin sings the song "If I were a Sultan, I would have three wives." And his phrase - "In the neighboring area, the groom kidnapped a party member" !!!. Is it possible to show this to the Soviet audience? The conclusion was unambiguous - of course not!
But, once Leonid Ilyich wanted to see some fresh comedy at the dacha. They decided to arrange a private screening of the disgraced film for Brezhnev. Surprisingly, the Secretary-General himself laughed the loudest of those in the room. It is not surprising that "Prisoner of the Caucasus" immediately received the "green light".
The painting "White Sun of the Desert" also did not inspire high officials. Some scenes had to be re-shot. For example, in the original version, Vereshchagin's wife went crazy after the death of her husband. Abdullah's wives mourned his death. All this needed to be removed from the frame. But, even after all the changes, the fate of the painting was in question.
Fortunately, Brezhnev, who loved to watch action films and westerns, heard about the new film. Once, at the dacha, there were no foreign paintings on this topic, I had to show Leonid Ilyich "The White Sun of the Desert". Brezhnev saw nothing seditious in the film, and decided that the film should be watched by Soviet viewers.
The specific theme of the films "The Diamond Arm" and "Gentlemen of Fortune" also frightened those who had to decide whether or not to release films on the screens of the country. After all, the main characters were characters who had serious problems with the law. Moreover, they were presented not in the form of villains, but, on the contrary, comedic, and in some ways even unfortunate people who arouse sympathy in the audience. As, for example, associates of the Associate Professor, who took the path of correction in the final of the picture. And in them Brezhnev did not find a threat to the socialist society, moreover, he personally called the General Directorate of Cinematography with a demand to allow mass distribution.
The cult Soviet film "Pirates of the Twentieth Century" was filmed already in the era when the reign of Leonid Ilyich was nearing its end - in 1979. The plot seemed too cruel, with an abundance of shootings and hand-to-hand fights. Perhaps, the picture would not have been seen by Soviet viewers until the time of perestroika, if not for the intervention of Brezhnev. As already mentioned, he had a special passion for militants, and here the plot is also suitable - our famously dealt with strangers.
Probably, not all films are listed here, the fate of which was decided by Brezhnev. But even this short list is enough to understand how poorer our cinema would have been if they had not been caught in the Secretary General's film library in due time.