Motion Picture Director. Best known for his glitzy musical-comedies of the 1930s, the first of their kind in Soviet Cinema. Born Grigori Mormonenko in Yekaterinburg, Russia, he started out as a provincial actor and acrobat and entertained Red Army troops during the Russian Civil War. In 1921 he joined the Proletkult Theatre in Moscow and became friends with its young director, Sergei Eisenstein, whom he later followed into the cinema. Alexandrov served as Eisenstein's chief assistant and co-scenarist on the films "Strike" (1925), "Battleship Potemkin" (1925), "October" (1928), and "Old and New" (1929). From 1929 to 1932 he accompanied Eisenstein and cameraman Eduard Tisse on their trip to Europe, the United States and Mexico; the only fruit of their voyage, the unfinished documentary "Que Viva Mexico!", was left in the US after the group ran out of funds. Upon his return home Alexandrov embarked on his own solo directing career. He had acquired a fondness for musicals during his stay in Hollywood and was determined to introduce the genre to the USSR, making necessary allowances for the political regimentation of the times. The result, "The Jolly Fellows" (1934), was spirited and jazzy and had just enough ideology to placate the Kremlin's commissars. Stalin-era audiences starved for escapist entertainment responded in droves, and while few Soviet musical comedies were subsequently produced they remained immensely popular up to World War II. Alexandrov's later entries in this series were "Circus" (1936), "Volga-Volga" (his biggest hit, 1938), and "Bright Road" (1941). All starred Lyubov Orlova (his wife from 1935) and featured music by the country's leading songwriter, Isaak Dunayevsky. The success of these films made Alexandrov very powerful in the film industry. He received the Order of Lenin twice (1939 and 1950) and replaced Eisenstein as head of the Mosfilm Studio in 1944. In the cinematically barren final years of Stalin's rule he was one of the few directors able to work steadily and won international awards for the historical dramas "Meeting on the Elbe" (1949), and "The Composer Glinka" (1952). After the mid-1950s his career gradually faded. His other credits include the short "Romance sentimentale", made in France in 1930; "A Family" (1943), "Spring" (1947), "Man to Man" (1958), "Russian Souvenir" (1960), and "Before October" (1965). In 1979 Alexandrov finally gained access to Eisenstein's footage for "Que Viva Mexico!" and edited an "official" version based on the late director's notes. His final film, "Lyubov Orlova" (1983), was a documentary tribute to his wife, who died in 1975.
Bio by: Bobb Edwards