Eduard Akopov's script for the film "The Man from Boulevard des Capucines" lay on the shelf for five years, and none of the Soviet directors was in a hurry to film it. In the domestic cinema, Westerns were not often filmed, and the work was large-scale. Finally, Alla Surikova became interested in the script, however, with one condition, she will shoot the picture only if she can approve Andrei Mironov for the main role.
Surikova urged Mironov to agree, she did not see anyone else in the role of Mr. Fest. But Mironov himself was busy at that time. Only after reading the script, he was eager to act in this film, the image of the noble propagandist of cinema, John Fest, clearly captivated him.
Nikolai Karachentsov was planned for the role of the gangster Black Jack. And the actor himself suddenly announced that this role was not interesting to him. Playing Billy King is another matter entirely. But, according to the director's plan, King was supposed to be played by a dimensional actor who, by his very appearance, terrified those around him. But, Karachentsov was allowed to test. On them, he was so convincing that the role of King went to him.
A whole "constellation" of eminent Soviet actors was involved in the filming, but many of them still ended up "overboard." For example, Frunzik Mkrtchyan was planned for the role of the leader of the Indians, and the role of the undertaker, who became a film critic, Armen Dzhigarkhanyan. But, they did not manage to choose the time for filming. Instead of these actors, Spartak Mishulin and Lev Durov were invited. Alexei Zharkov, the main candidate for the role of Billy King, was not in the picture either. Zharkov himself was very upset that another actor was approved.
Oleg Tabakov took part in the filming, he played the role of the bartender Harry. But, in time, he was limited, therefore, the episodes with his participation were filmed in an emergency mode. Together with Oleg Pavlovich, his son Anton appeared in the film, who got the episodic role of Bobby the ticket collector.
According to the scenario, Mr. Fest comes to the provincial town of Santa Carolina, who captivated all the inhabitants with cinema. But, the shooting itself took place far from the Wild West. The scenery was installed in Crimea, where the film crew worked in 1986. By the way, there is a small inaccuracy in the title of the film: the Parisian boulevard, where the world's first film screenings took place, was called Boulevard des Capucines, not Capuchins.
Since Westerns were practically not filmed in the Soviet Union, big problems arose with the props. Neither cowboy saddles, nor Colts, nor clothing were available. I had to collect everything "from the world on a string", something was brought from Czechoslovakia, something was found in our country, cacti were painted, and hats and clothes were urgently sewn at Mosfilm.
And the working title of the script was different. It was supposed that the picture "Ten drops before shooting" will be released. But, in the Soviet Union in those years there was a large-scale anti-alcohol campaign, therefore, such a name would raise many questions. As a result, the original name became only a phrase that the pharmacist performed by Mikhail Svetin pronounces in the film.
The entire town of Santa Carolina was made from plywood boards by decorators. The strong wind caused a lot of problems, the "houses of cards" often collapsed under its pressure. They had to be strengthened with wooden posts. The city was quickly built and quickly ceased to exist, it was burned down after the end of filming.
The film had a huge number of battle scenes, therefore, many stuntmen had to be involved, the most famous of whom was Alexander Inshakov. During a fight in the saloon, the heroes easily break bottles on each other's heads. Such stunts were dangerous even for experienced stuntmen. Therefore, the bottles were made from a special resin. They broke very easily, while harming no one.
Nikolai Karachentsov strove to perform all the tricks on his own. And he coped with them perfectly. His impulse did not cool down even after he broke a toe on his leg during one of the takes.
The athletic son of a Native American chief, who “had not yet celebrated his sixteenth spring, ” was actually much older. This role was played by the famous athlete Yuri Dumchev, the former world record holder in discus throwing. His height was about two meters, and his weight was almost 150 kilograms.
On June 23, 1987, the premiere of the film The Man from the Boulevard of the Capuchins took place in the capital's Mir cinema. The film quickly gained popularity with viewers, the halls were overcrowded. And two months after the release of the Soviet western on the screens, the country said goodbye to the leading actor, actor Andrei Mironov. He died on August 16 in Riga, where he was at that time on tour with the Theater of Satire. It was for the role of Mr. Festus that the magazine "Soviet Screen" recognized Andrei Mironov as the best actor of 1987. Already posthumously.