Made in Hungaria is a stage musical about the bleak days of communist rule in Eastern Europe. That’s not quite as unlikely as it sounds, because it begins with the return of the central character, teenaged Riki, home from America, where his family fled after the Soviet invasion of 1956. Now it’s the dawn of the 1960s, and Riki’s time growing up in the decadent west has given him decadent musical tastes: he’s a lover of rock’n’roll and has brought back with him (among other examples of capitalist hedonism) a smuggled cache of Buddy Holly records; his teen dream is to become the first Hungarian rock star. And that means plenty of opportunities for set-piece song and dance numbers, including many swirling skirts and even, if we’re lucky, the occasional bit of incidental bottom-smacking.
The dour Hungarian dictatorship finds it all very disorderly and disruptive, and Riki earns the nickname ‘Buddy Hooligan’. What is considered especially objectionable is the music’s erotic effect on young women.
And so the scene is set for conflict: joyous, sexy, life-affirming music versus censorious, authoritarian and predominantly middle-aged state power. Efforts to crack down on the contagion include the draconian threat of imprisonment, but all comes right in the end thanks to the winning charms of rock’n’roll.
It really was made in Hungary, the work of songwriter Miklos Fenyo and librettist Istvan Tasnadi, and premiered in 2001 at the Jozsef Attila Theater in Budapest. It’s a light, heart-warming slice of undemanding entertainment, with the inevitable love story thrown in for good measure, but it has to be said that it reaches its happy ending without anybody being spanked. And while that’s not necessarily a problem, it is one reason to be thankful for the 2009 film version, in which the central character is renamed Miki and the period setting moved forward to the spring of 1963, just after the Cuban Missile Crisis. And in which there is a spanking.
The scene in question is a set-piece performance of the beach song ‘Come on, Come on, Julie’, and takes place at a lido, the closest landlocked Hungary can get to a beach. It features a group of jocks dancing through the sunbathing crowds and getting playful with the girls.
As they reach the first chorus – ‘Gyere, gyere, Juli’ – we cut to a line of six wiggling, swimsuited bottoms, five of whose owners are in the picture above.
One of the jocks bops along the line, ‘playing the bongos’ on them as he goes.
The girls who get smacked are, right to left, Eva (played by Rozi Lovas), Vali (Alexandra Pap, barely visible in her polka dots), Juci (Melinda Hekler), Reka (Anna Gyrofi), Kis (Bori Czuha) and finally Kriszta (Judit Eszlari). When he gets to the end, he rightly decides that Kriszta in her patterned swimsuit is worthy of special attention… so he puts her across his knee to give it to her!
The camera angle isn’t ideal, and the shot quickly cuts away to other girls, but under the music we do hear the sound of the initial few slaps before the start of the next scene, somewhere else in town. And when we return to the lido, guess what’s still going on in the right-hand corner of the screen?
We get a rear-end view of the last slap of the spanking before Kriszta is set on her feet.
Here’s a clip of the whole scene:
It’s still completely incidental, but it is undeniably a spanking, and, what’s more, a bit of fun for all concerned!