27 September 2017

Kveta Fialová (1929-2017)

Yesterday, 26 September 2017, Czech actress Květa Fialová (1929) has passed away. In her country, she was a popular theatre, film and television diva. Internationally she is best known for her role as bar singer Tornado Lou in the Western parody Limonádový Joe aneb Konská opera/Lemonade Joe (1964).

Kveta Fialová
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, no. 3170, 1968. Retail price: 0,20 DM. Photo: Progress.

Kveta Fialova (1929-2017)
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, no. 2.125, 1964. Photo: Limonádový Joe aneb Konská opera/Lemonade Joe (Oldrich Lipský, 1964).

Traumatic Experience

Květa Fialová was born in Veľkých Dravcích (Vel’ké Dravce), Czechoslovakia (now Slovak Republic) in 1929. Her mother was the artist and sculptor Květoslava Fialová and her father the Czech legionary Vlastimil Fiala.

The family lived in Slovakia until 1938, when the nationalists were driven to the Czech Republic. They moved to Zdar and later to Borohrádku. At the end of the war her mother and Kveta were raped by Soviet soldiers, which was the most traumatic experience of her life.

From 1946 till 1950, she studied at the Janáček Academy in Brno. In 1950 she made her film debut with a small part in the drama Veliká prílezitost/The Great Opportunity (K.M. Wallo, 1950). The next years followed supporting roles in Czech films as Stika v rybníce/The Pike in a Fish Pond (Vladimír Cech, 1951), Plavecký mariás/Rivers 1x1 (Václav Wasserman, 1953) and Strakonický dudák/The Strakonice Bagpiper (Karel Stekly, 1955).

Meanwhile Fialová worked at several regional theatres, in the Czech cities of Těšíně (Cieszyn), Opavě (Opava) and Budějovicích (Budejovice), in Germany in Köln (Cologne), and in Slovakia in Martině (Martin). Since 1958 she was engaged at Prague's Divadlo ABC (ABC Theater), which at that time was directed by Jan Werich.

In Prague she had a larger choice of film roles and she appeared in such films as Tenkrát o vánocích/At That Time, at Christmas... (Karel Kachyna, 1958) and Dum na Orechovce/A Suburban Villa (Vladislav Delong, 1959) with Jiri Vala. After the ABC Theatre had merged with the Městskými divadly (Municipal Theatre of Prague) in 1963, she worked there until 1990. In subsequent years, she was a permanent guest actor at the theatre.

Kveta Fialova (1929-2017)
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 727, 1958. Photo: publicity still for Zlaty pavouk/The Golden Spider (Pavel Blumenfeld, 1957).

Kveta Fialova (1929-2017)
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, no. 2.645, 1966. Photo: Balinski.

Prague Springtime

During her long career, Květa Fialová played many characters in dozens of films. Some of her finest films were made during the Prague Springtime of the early 1960s.

Probably her best known role is that of bar singer Tornado Lou in the wild and funny Western parody Limonádový Joe aneb Konská opera/Lemonade Joe (Oldrich Lipský, 1964) starring Karel Fiala.

Hal Erickson at AllMovie: “Lemonade Joe is a sweet-natured Czechoslovakian spoof of Hollywood westerns. Hero Lemonade Joe (Carl Fiala) is so named because he refuses to drink the ‘hard stuff’ when he saunters into the local saloon. The plot exaggerates all the supposedly standard cowboy clichés, including dance hall girls with golden hearts, masked rustlers, and the sundown showdown. Halfway through, director Oldrich Lipsky (a graduate of Prague's Satirical Theatre) has nowhere further to go and begins repeating himself - then finds that he has to take certain plot threads seriously in order to expedite a happy ending. Nonetheless, the overall cheerfulness and virtuosity of the project won Lemonade Joe plenty of critical praise”.

Reportedly, the film made Fialová a kind of sex symbol in Eastern Europe. In a satire on the pulp novel, Fantom Morrisvillu/The Phantom of Morrisville (Borivoj Zeman, 1966), she played Hannibal’s fiancee. That year she also played a small part in another internationally successful comedy, Ostre sledované vlaky/Closely Watched Trains (Jirí Menzel, 1966). The film, based on Bohumil Hrabal's novel of the same name, was the recipient of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1967. Vaclav Neckar plays a Czech railroad worker during the Nazi occupation, who becomes attracted to the Czech underground.

Another successful satire was Konec agenta W4C prostrednictvím psa pana Foustky/The End of Agent W4C (Václav Vorlícek, 1967), which was a spoof on the James Bond films. Interesting was also the black comedy Vrazda po cesku/Murder Czech Style (Jirí Weiss, 1968).

Kveta Fialova (1929-2017)
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, no. 16/69. Photo: publicity still for Jarní vody/Spring Waters (Václav Krska, 1968).

Kveta Fialova in Do zbrane kuruci! (1974)
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 101/75. Photo: publicity still for Do zbrane kuruci!/To the guns, rebels! (Andrej Lettrich, 1974).

Nick Carter

After the Soviets had violently broken the Prague Springtime, Květa Fialová continued to make films but the results were less interesting than before.

Her better films of the 1970s include the crime film Partie krásného dragouna/The Matches of a Beautiful Dragoon (Jirí Sequens, 1970), the comedy Slamený klobouk/Straw Hat (Oldrich Lipský, 1972), and another genre spoof, Adéla jeste nevecerela/Nick Carter in Prague (Oldrich Lipský, 1978) with Michal Docolomanský as the legendary American detective Nick Carter.

Fialová also appeared in many television films and series, and also often dubbed foreign programs. During the 1980s and 1990s she continued to combine her TV and stage work with appearances in films.

These films include the family comedy S tebou me baví svet/Snowmen with Hearts (Marie Polednáková, 1983), the French-Czech fantasy Une trop bruyante solitude/Too Loud a Solitude (Verá Caïs, 1996) starring Philippe Noiret, and the comedy Bájecná léta pod psa/Wonderful Years That Sucked (Petr Nikolaev, 1997).

In the new century she kept busy playing grandmothers in TV series and films, including the mild comedy Úcastníci zájezdu/Holiday Makers (Jirí Vejdelek, 2006). One of her last stage triumphs was her leading role in the play Harold and Maude.

Květa Fialová was married twice. After an early marriage at 21, she was married to director Pavla Háši from 1957 until his death in 2009. They had a daughter Zuzana (1962). Fialová was now the grandmother of Dominiky.

Trailer for Limonádový Joe aneb Koňská opera/Lemonade Joe (1964). Source: filmexporthomevideo (YouTube).

Trailer of Adéla ještě nevečeřela/Nick Carter in Prague (1978). Source: kl1138 (YouTube).

Sources: Hal Erickson (AllMovie), Milan ‘Gudaulin’ Černý (ČSFD.cz - czech), Wikipedia (Czech), and IMDb.

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