German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 4386/1, 1929-1930. Photo: Atelier Balázs, Berlin. Collection: Didier Hanson.
The Station Master
Vera Stepanovna Malinovskaya, also written as Malinowskaya, Malinovskaja or Malinovskaia, was born in Kiev, Russian Empire (now Ukraine), in 1900. As a girl, she was trained as a ballet dancer by the great Olga Preobrazenskaya.
Malinovskaya made her film debut in Vsem na radost'/To Everyone for Luck (Aleksandr Anoshchenko, 1924). From 1925 on, she had leading roles in films by the Mezhrabpom film company, often playing innocent girls.
In 1925 she played Dunia opposite Ivan Moskvin in Kollezhskiy registrator/The Station Master (Ivan Moskvin, Yuri Zhelyabuzhsky, 1925), scripted by Fyodor Otsep (Fedor Ozep), after a novel by Alexander Pushkin. An aging village station master (Moskvin) leaves his post to trudge through the snow after his daughter Dunia (Malinovskaya), who is seduced and abducted by an aristocratic army officer. When he finally finds her after many hardships, he dies of heart failure.
Mary Pickford, who visited the Soviet Union with Douglas Fairbanks in 1926, later recalled she was impressed by Malinovskaya's performance in The Station Master. She also described meeting Malinovskaya: "In Russia I met a charming young, Russian 'star' - a tall girl with fair hair. She played the principal role in the best movie I saw there - The Station Keeper. By the way, this 'star' was among those who met us in Minsk. She wore a plain chiffon dress that looked as if it were four years old, but was neatly mended and washed. Probably with the assistance of Douglas and I, she will come to America."
It never happened. Footage of Pickford kissing a local actor was used - unknown to Pickford and Fairbanks - to make the comedy Potseluy Meri Pikford/A Kiss from Mary Pickford (Sergei Komarov, 1927), in which Malinovskaya played a part too.
Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford on a European tour. British postcard.
Melodramas and Historical Horror
In 1925 Vera Malinovskaya played in the historical horror film Medvezhya svadba/The Marriage of the Bear (Konstantin Eggert, Vladimir Gardin, 1925), based on a play by Anatoli Lunacharsky.
Konstantin Eggert specialized in melodramatic films and Malinovskaya, also appeared in his Chuzhaya/Someone Else (Konstantin Eggert, 1927), starring Peter Baksheev.
Malinovskaya had the female lead in Chelovek iz restorana/The Man from the Restaurant (Yakov Protazanov, 1927). Her male counterpart was the famous stage actor Michael Chekhov, a nephew of writer Anton Chekhov. He plays an older waiter who silently witnesses and endures the fattening rich and war profiteers, while his son is killed in the war and his wife dies as well. His chance comes when he saves his innocent daughter (Malinovskaya) from the clutches of a fat factory owner.
Peter Bagrov at KinoKultura lists a title that IMDb ignores: Takaya zhenshchina/Such a woman (Konstantin Eggert, 1927). In this melodrama, Malinovskaya had a smaller part as the peasant wife of a soldier who had previously been cheated by his aristocratic first wife.
Next followed another Eggert melodrama, Ledyanoy dom/Ice House (Konstantin Eggert, 1928) with again Peter Baksheev in the lead and based on a story by Ivan Lazjechnikov. The film is set in the 18th century: a gypsy girl is brought to the Russian court. There a prince falls in love with her, but the envious heiress of the throne tries to poison her.
Malinovskaya's last film in the Soviet Union was Khromoy barin/The Lame Gentleman (Konstantin Eggert, 1928), based on a story by Aleksey Tolstoy (not to be confused with the famous novelist).
Russian postcard by Roznak, Moscow, series no. 4, no. A 2400, 1927. Published in an edition of 25,000 cards.
Austrian postcard by Iris Verlag, no. 5712. Photo: Lux-Film-Verleih / Greenbaum-Film.
In 1928 Vera Malinovskaya, desperate about the low wages in spite of her success, emigrated to Western Europe to play in Austrian and German historical films of the late silent era.
In Berlin, she played in the Aco-Film production Der Zigeunerprimas/Sari and The Gypsy Virtuoso (Carl Wilhelm, 1928), in which she played gypsy king Racz Pali's (Raimondo van Riel) daughter Sari.
She also went to Vienna where she played in the Sascha production Kaiserjäger (Hans Otto, 1928), opposite Mary Kid, Igo Sym and Werner Pittschau.
Also in 1928, she moved to Munich to play countess Tarnowska in the Emelka production Waterloo (Karl Grune, 1928), conceiving history from the Prussian perspective and starring Otto Gebühr as general Blücher.
Her last role was in the Greenbaum production Der Günstling von Schönbrunn/Favorite of Schonbrunn (Erich Waschneck, Max Reichmann, 1929), based on a story by Ladislaus Vajda. This historical comedy starred Lil Dagover as Empress Theresia and Iván Petrovich as Oberst Trenck, Malinovskaya was the empress' rival countess Nostiz.
After Der Günstling von Schönbrunn, Malinovskaya stopped playing in films. The reason was probably the arrival of the sound cinema. Reportedly she lived in Italy for a while, but according to the filmographies of Vittorio Martinelli and IMDb she did not perform in a film there.
Vera Malinovskaya died in Monaco in 1988. She was 88.
Austrian postcard by Iris Verlag, no. 5784. Photo: Lux Film. Still for Der Günstling von Schönbrunn/Favorite of Schonbrunn (1929) with Iván Petrovich.
Sources: Peter Bagrov (Kino Kultura), Hal Erickson (AllMovie), Sergei Bertensson (In Hollywood with Nemirovich-Danchenko, 1926-1927) and IMDb.