Postriziny (Cutting it Short), now a popular Czech stage musical, began life in 1976 as a nostalgic novel by the Czech author Bohumil Hrabal (1914-97). The light-hearted, episodic story takes place in the town of Nymburk in central Bohemia, and, despite the title, it has a specific period setting, the 1920s. The central characters are Francin, the manager of the local brewery and his wife Maryska, a character based on Hrabal’s own mother, and who is admired for her luxuriant long hair the color of real beer, as he puts it. (He means Bohemian blonde, of course.) Postriziny is a double meaning: it is both the name of the brewery and something Maryska does towards the end, something which earns her a public spanking – in a vain, silly effort to follow fashion, she cuts that beautiful hair short. Let’s hear her tell the story of what happened next.
He unfastened the pump from the bicycle frame.
‘I’m pumped up enough,’ I said, skilfully feeling the front and back tyres.
But Francin unscrewed the rubber tube inside the bicycle pump.
‘The pump’s alright, too,’ I said, not understanding.
Suddenly Francin leapt at me. He took me across his knee, tucked my skirt up and spanked me on my bottom. Shocked, I worried whether my panties were clean. Had I washed? And was I covered up enough? And Francin spanked me and the cyclists nodded contentedly and the three ladies of the town friendly society watched as if they had personally ordered this retribution.
Francin stood me back on the ground. I pulled my skirt down, and handsome Francin flared his nostrils.
‘Right, lass,’ he said, ‘we begin a new life.’
In 1980, the novel was filmed by Jiri Menzel, who had already won an Oscar for a screen version of another of Hrabal’s novels, Closely Watched Trains. Jiri Schmitzer plays Francin, and Magda Vasaryova is Maryska.
The sequence that most interests us comes right at the end of the film, when Maryska goes to the town barber, shows him a photograph of Josephine Baker and asks for a short hairstyle like hers. The hapless hairdresser accedes to her request with obvious reluctance, and then she rides home with her shorn tresses attached to the back of the bicycle. She meets Francin in the brewery courtyard. Visibly unimpressed, he stalks solemnly and silently over to the bike and takes off the pump. ‘My tyres don’t need pumping up,’ she says. He takes the rubber hose out, hands her the pump and bends her over the handlebars.
Since this a central European spanking, up comes her skirt…
Down goes the rubber hose across her panties…
And in front of the brewery staff, she gets a good spanking…
But as it continues, her vocal and facial expressions of pain begin to mingle with a kind of ecstasy.
So she tries to up the stakes a little… by taking down her panties! (Not quite what happened in the original novel…)
But at that, he stops the spanking, drops the hose and lifts her up to perch on the handlebars. She reminisces about buying the pump, and he rides off with her to begin a new life. But the inaugural roll in the hay pauses while she makes an announcement: she’s pregnant. And with that, the movie reaches its close.
If you want to watch the film, you can do so here. Of course, it’s in Czech…
The spanking was meticulously rehearsed and shot. Here’s Jiri Menzel showing Jiri Schmitzer how he wants it done:
Here’s the filming in progress:
(You can see from the camera position that they’re taking the close-ups of her bottom.)
And here’s what the stills photographer achieved:
The movie proved so popular, and the spanking scene so famous, that it is now displayed as a mural at the brewery they used as the location:
If you want to go and see it, don’t head for the original Bohemian brewery, but the one at Dalesice in Moravia, further to the south east of the Czech Republic. But for real spanking action, you might still want to pay a visit to Nymburk…
In the Anglo-American theater nowadays, one way of creating a successful stage show is to adapt a popular movie: it’s been done with The Ladykillers, Made in Dagenham, even (as we know) Debbie Does Dallas… And the Czech playwright Miloslav Frydl did exactly that with Postriziny. It’s not entirely clear just when he wrote it, but here’s the earliest production I’ve been able to trace, at Revnice in 2004…
To mark the tenth anniversary of Hrabal’s death, in 2007 the Nymburk brewery hosted an open-air production – although in this publicity shot Maryska seems not to have actually committed the hair-cutting misdeed for which she is being spanked!
And it became a favorite with local actors: it was regularly revived around the region, often with Pavla Svedova as Maryska. Here she is in 2008, being spanked by Jiri Petris as Francin:
Here they are again in 2009, in a performance where Pavla seems to have made a slight oversight with her period costume:
Yes, dear, you do need to cover up your modern bikini panties!
Never mind, she’s got it right this time:
And that brings us to the perennially piquant subject of skirt-lifting. Postriziny is a play where the spanking is always, without exception, done with a raised skirt.
Maryska’s underwear is supposed to be period, of course, which allows a range of options, from skimpy…
Tamas Szabo Kimmel spanks Csilla Radnay in a Hungarian production from 2011.
This production from 2007 goes to the fuller end of the spectrum:
If you look at that last one closely, you may spot the actress’s own white panties underneath. A sight also sometimes available through Pavla’s skimpier undergarments, when she remembers to put them on…
And Pavla just carried on playing Maryska and getting spanked, year in, year out…
Here she is getting it on video:
Nice to know the audience loves it!
And, having honored the anniversary of the author’s death, the brewery staged another production in August 2014 to celebrate the centenary of his birth. Despite the costume change, it’s still Pavla as Maryska:
But the other brewery at Dalesice, the film location, is determined not to be outdone, which was bad news for Magdalena Potuckova in September 2014:
There have been other stage versions, like this one, adapted by Ondrej Nekvasil and produced at the ABC Theater, Prague in February 2008, with Jiri Hana as Francin and Barbora Polakova as Maryska:
There’s a short clip of the spanking to be seen in a television magazine show about Czech theater, available online here. (Go directly to 14.40 for the item about the play.)
The most recent version, another musical, was adapted by Jiri Janku and Petr Svojtka, and opened in Ostrava in the fall of 2014, with Frantisek Strnad as Francin and Lada Belaskova as Maryska:
Here’s a trailer:
Strnad was directed to spank her for real, and he made a point of telling the press how red her bottom was afterwards – but he did cut off the metal end of the tube to make sure he didn’t actually injure her!
This new adaptation was quickly revived in February 2015 at the Municipal Theater in Most, with Michael Vykus and Lucia Jagercikova, who has made a bit of an innovation in her undercarriage:
I wonder what the next revival will bring!
For more on Postriziny, go here.