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Episode guide: 617- The Sword and the Dragon

Movie: (1956) A Russian hero leads the fight against invading Mongols.

First shown: 12/3/94
Opening: Tom leads Mike and Crow in a game Dungeons & Dragons
Intro: The Mads get a visit from their new neighbors in Deep 12, and ask M&TB to entertain; they soon regret it
Host segment 1: “A joke by Ingmar Bergman”
Host segment 2: M&tB reenact the table cloth making scene
Host segment 3: Ilya Murametz visits on the Hexfield
End: Gypsy’s review of the musical, The Mads have been on a date
Stinger: The wind demon takes a dive
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (199 votes, average: 4.34 out of 5)


• Of course, this is the third of the Ptushko Russo-Finnish trilogy, starring a lot of the same people as “Day the Earth Froze” and “Magic Voyage of Sinbad.” Like the other two, it’s based on Russo-Finnish mythology/legend, is a very pretty and clearly very expensive movie and is completely OUT THERE. The riffers have plenty to work with here and the riffing almost HAS to be good, and it is. The host segments are fun…mostly.
• You can find this episode in Shout’s Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection: Vol XXIV.
• When this first aired, it was the fourth new episode in 10 days. MSTies were delirious. It went back to the more typical weekly schedule after this, and within months the show was to go away for quite a while, but this embarrassment of riches was nice while it lasted.
• The opening segment is wacky fun, though “I must take my own life” is probably not the funniest punchline, especially for a sketch about this topic.
• The first time I saw this, when Mike said “Mordor and Rivendell” I said “Those are places!” right along with Tom. What a Tolkien nerd I am.
• In fact the Mads are also very nerdy this week, what with the comic books in plastic bags and the fear of girls.
• That’s Mary Jo (in Deep 13 for the second week in a row) and Bridget, of course, as the girls from Deep 12. Never did find that laundry room, I’m guessing…
• “Supercalifragilisticexpeali-wacky!” is sort of The Capital Steps meets Mark Russell. So, not really funny at all.
• When Servo riffs: “I’m Mike Wallace,” it’s because the writers thought the movie’s narrator really sounded like late “60 Minutes” reporter. But, guess what: Wallace did a lot of things in his career (he was even a game show host) and there’s a reason that voice sounds like him–It really is him!
• Non-spaghetti ball bumpers: Book, bulletin board, film canister.
• Segment 1 was much discussed in the forums. It moved too slowly for some people. Also, not everybody knew who Ingmar Bergman was, and not everybody was familiar with the Upper Midwestern tradition of “Sven and Ole” jokes. So it took some explaining.
• Callback: o/` “Heeey, it’s the undersea kingdom…” o/`
• Call-forward: a “Legend of Boggy Creek” mention.
• Segment 2 is very silly, and another chance for Gypsy to shine. I love the lyrics to her song.
• As for segment 3, well, let’s just give Kevin credit for committing to the bit. “HAM,” indeed!
• Cast and crew roundup: With a few exceptions, everybody here either worked on The Day The Earth Froze (I’ll call it “Day”) and “Magic Voyage of Sinbad” (I’ll call it “Sinbad”). If they worked on both, I’ll just say “both.” Producer/director Aleksandr Ptushko of course worked on both. Cinematographer Fyodor Provorov worked on “Sinbad.” Special effects director Aleksei Renkov worked on “Day.” Costumer Olga Kruchinina worked on “Sinbad.” Production designer Yevgeni Kumankov was art director on “Sinbad.” Music conductor: S. Sakharov worked on “Day, as did score composer Igor Morozov.
In front of the camera Yelena Myshkova was in “Sinbad.” as were Sergei Stolyarov and Sovol Martinson. Buncha commies, the lot of ’em, I’m sure.
One other note: the voice of Kalin and several other voices in this are provided by the great Paul Frees, who wrote and directed “The Beatniks” and whose voice pops up in several other MSTed movies.
• CreditsWatch: Host segments directed by Kevin Murphy. Mike wrote the music for “Supercalafragalisticexpialawacky!!!” The entire staff wrote the lyrics.
• Fave riff: “This baby can handle everything but a three-headed drago-…aw, son of a…” Honorable mentions: “Finland’s annual emotional outburst” and “Kiss your aunt Bernice.”

112 comments to Episode guide: 617- The Sword and the Dragon

  • 101
    Ray Dunakin says:

    This is one of my favorite episodes. The movie’s budget and quality is clearly far beyond most MST3k fare and would be watchable on its own. Yet it’s still goofy enough to provide plenty of riff fodder.

    These Russian films were imported in the early 1960s, at the height of the Cold War. So I suspect they were originally marketed here as “Finnish” films, and may have still been identified as such when Best Brains got them. That’s my theory, anyway.

    BTW, I loved the Ingmar Bergman sketch, though I’d heard that joke before. The joke told in the sketch, with it’s now somewhat outdated punchline, was not really the point. The point was spoofing Bergman films. So in that sense, it worked whether you understood the joke or not. Getting the joke was just a bonus.

    On the other hand, after many, many viewings I now usually fast-forward through it.



  • 102
    EricJ says:

    I say it’s Russian
    And you say it’s Finnish,

    Except for M&tB, who call it Swedish, during the host segs.
    Hey, whatever, they talk funny and it’s from…over there, somewhere.



  • 103
    touches no one's life, then leaves says:

    And Swedish accents are always funny

    They’re not Swedish, they’re Scandihoovian. Whatever that means.



  • 104
    Ro-man, aka one of several possible Steves says:

    I always think of Paul Frees first and foremost as the “GHOST host” from Disney’s Haunted Mansion… great childhood memories of that wonderful voice. But looking over IMDB, wow, what a career he had!

    And interesting too that the MST’d “Beatnicks” was the one and only film he directed.



  • 105
    Bruce Boxliker says:

    Still one of my favorite episodes of all time! It’s got everything – Action! Drama! Pants in a barrel! Mountains of men!

    edge10: I wonder how many people who would look down their noses at D&D players have spent their time playing video games? More to the point, games like World of Warcraft, Diablo, et. all. Heck, Halo is just Traveller (aka D&D in space).

    When I first heard about Portal, I was immediately reminded of the tabletop RPG Paranoia. Trust the computer. The computer is your friend.
    And there was already a D&D in space, Spelljammer. It was… interesting.



  • 106
    Captain Pedantic Of The "Actually..." Brigade says:

    Mosfilm has the full, uncut Russian original on Youtube, complete with English subtitles and stereo sound:



  • 107
    Ro-man, aka one of several possible Steves says:

    I always think of Paul Frees first and foremost as the “GHOST host” from Disney’s Haunted Mansion… great childhood memories of that wonderful voice. But looking over IMDB, wow, what a career he had!

    And interesting too that the MST’d “Beatnicks” was the one and only film he directed. Thanks to him, we’ll always have that fat barkeep.



  • 108
    touches no one's life, then leaves says:

    Not relevant to this particular episode, but it occurred to me:

    Why did Frank sometimes address Dr. F as “Steve”? Anyone? Thanks.

    Frank was gone by the time #701’s Night of the Blood Beast erred, so if it was based on that, well, the Brains obviously watched it long before they actually used it.



  • 109
    touches no one's life, then leaves says:

    Proof that the show is in the not-too-distant-future: Frank asks if Clay has seen his “X-Men #354”.Uncanny X-Men #354 had a publication date of April 1998.This only enhances the show’s awesomeness for me.

    Well, then again, they couldn’t find it. Maybe that’s because it didn’t actually exist yet. Wink

    Or maybe they acquired it via that time machine they had back in some episode or another.

    Servo:“Legend of Boggy Creek had more depth.”

    Well, yeah, what with the swamp and all…

    “If you’re Russian when you go in, and you’re Finnish when you leave, what are you while in the bathroom?”


    But only VAGUELY European.



  • 110
    Bat Masterson says:

    @ 108 In one of the CT shows Frank said that his AA sponsor was named Steve, I don’t know if that was true and if it was true whether it had any bearing on the dialogue in MST, but it is a possibility.

    I like this episode. All the Russo/Finnish films had gorgeous scenery and relatively good production values, but there is no getting away from the fact that they could be as goofy as all-get-out. I liked pretty much all the host segments on this one, the Sven and Ole joke rendered Bergman style never fails to tickle me, Gypsy’s panning of Tom’s performance was funny, and the woodland critter sketch was hilarious as well. Now the movie itself was pretty good although it did seem to drag near the end, but it is a cut above the average MST film.

    Favorite Riffs:
    “You know, it would be easy to grab the wrong whiskery fat guy”- Mike
    ” This baby can handle everything but a three-headed dragon…Aw son of a…” Mike
    “At long last, our country says “no” to Renaissance festivals.” Crow
    “Ah, the golden age of making thing up.” Servo
    “Jake and the Fatman is different than I remember. ” Servo
    “Okay we get it – the circle of friggin life!” Crow
    “How many prologues does this movie need?” Mike
    “The banjo becomes angry at midnight- what the hell are you talking about??” Crow
    -If you bear a son .. ” I want to know who the father is.” Crow
    “Chad, I have a BIG problem with this.” Mike



  • 111
    Cornjob says:

    I love the Dr. Strangelove reference about the three headed dragon. Nice Doors bit during the father/son sword fight.



  • 112
    BBA says:

    touches no one’s life, then leaves:
    Not relevant to this particular episode, but it occurred to me:

    Why did Frank sometimes address Dr. F as “Steve”? Anyone? Thanks.

    Frank was gone by the time #701’s Night of the Blood Beast erred, so if it was based on that, well, the Brains obviously watched it long before they actually used it.

    Frank tweeted a few days ago that it’s just a non-sequitur that Mike dropped into a script once. The other Brains liked it so much it became a running gag.



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