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The Devil's Wheel 1926

Typically of the heady days of early Soviet cinema, this is constructed according to the fast, sharp editing principles advocated by Eisenstein, complete with symbolic inserts; but in terms of subject matter, it's much less explicitly political than most movies emerging from Russia in the '20s. Chronicling a young sailor's descent into a murky, treacherous underworld of pimps and thieves, after having encountered a Louise Brooks lookalike at a fairground and missed his departing boat, it's a lively moral fable that delights in vivid visual effects and quirky characterisations. If the plot occasionally reveals gaping holes, and the tacked-on ending urging the clearance of the Leningrad slums seems to be rather gratuitous, there's enough going on to keep one attentive and amused.

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