Moscow on the Hudson(1984)
Submitted by Tornado Dragon
As Vladimir (Robin Williams) adjusts to life in America, he goes through a series of odd jobs until he obtains regular work as a limousine driver, and he makes enough money to move out of Lionel’s (Cleavant Derricks) family’s apartment and into his own. He also buys a new saxophone, but he finds it extremely difficult to obtain work as a musician, and he wonders if he will ever get to play professionally again.
Vladimir also gets romantically involved with Lucia (Maria Conchita Alonso), an Italian employee of Bloomingdale’s who witnessed his defection there. However, while he, Lucia, Lionel, and his attorney Orlando (Alejandro Rey) – along with members of Lucia’s and Orlando’s families – are having a party at Orlando’s house one day to celebrate her recently becoming a U.S. citizen, he has a private chat with Lucia and proposes that they move in together. However, she turns that idea down, telling him that she is not ready to take that kind of a step in their relationship, and this disagreement devolves into a big argument between them that ends with Vladimir storming off. Some days later, he pays her a visit at her job to try to patch things up, and while he is doing so, Lionel comes up to them and tells them that he is quitting his job here due to not getting a raise in his salary that was due to him, and he also informs them that he has decided to head back to Alabama in order to be closer to his young son. After he leaves their presence, Lucia tells Vladimir that their relationship is over. A day or two later, Vladimir takes Lionel in his limousine over to Pennsylvania Station so he can catch his train to Alabama, and before he goes, Vladimir thanks him for his kindness, hospitality, and friendship, and they share a hug.
One day, Vladimir is paid a visit from a fellow Russian who recently left the Soviet Union and is acquainted with his sister, Sasha (Natalie Iwanow), and he gives him a letter from his family. When Vladimir reads it, he finds out that his beloved grandfather has recently passed away. To try to ease his mind, he spends the night drinking and dancing at a Russian nightclub that he used to work at until it closes, but when he returns to his apartment building, he is mugged by two black youths in the hallway. Afterwards, he contacts Orlando for help, and after they file a report about the crime at the nearest police station, they head to a luncheonette to clear their heads.
While they are there, Vladimir vents his frustrations to Orlando over how he has come to find America in general to be insane and New York City to be brutal and crazy, based on his personal struggles and his recent string of bad luck. He then gets into a verbal confrontation with a large man sitting nearby who turns out to be a fellow Russian defector, and this defector tells him that he loves being in America very much before ordering him to go back to Moscow if he doesn’t like it here. Their altercation almost turns physical, but Vladimir calms down and apologizes after hearing firecrackers go off outside, which the other Russian tells him is being done to celebrate Independence Day. In recognition of this day, Orlando starts to recite the first sentence from the U.S. Declaration of Independence, but when he fails to fully remember it, Vladimir starts reciting the second sentence, and he, Orlando, the other Russian, a Mexican busboy, and a Chinese customer all help him complete it. In the morning, Vladimir returns to his apartment and discovers that Lucia is there, and she tells him that she had come here to give him back the key to this place, but fell asleep waiting for him to return. Lucia soon admits that she has missed him very much, and Vladimir replies that he feels the same way. She then tells him that, while she is not ready for marriage yet, she would love to live with an immigrant, and then they hug and kiss.
In another letter that he writes to his family, Vladimir narrates that he received the news about the death of his grandfather, and though he is very sad, he is satisfied that his grandfather lived his life on his own terms right up until the end. As he continues his narration, we see that he has finally found work as a musician, having become the saxophonist for the band at the Russian nightclub. Also, we see that Lionel has returned from Alabama, and he is now working Vladimir’s old job as a limousine driver. One day, just before Vladimir is about to do a street performance for some extra money, he stops at a hot dog cart to get a hot dog. To his surprise, he discovers that its operator is Boris (Savely Kramarov), the KGB agent who was assigned to the circus that Vladimir used to work for and who tried to prevent him from defecting. Boris explains that he ended up defecting himself, fearing the consequences that he would have had to face back in Moscow for failing to stop Vladimir, but he has come to appreciate America and his new life here. He then thanks Vladimir for indirectly making it possible before giving him a hot dog on the house.
As he plays the saxophone for people in front of the Pulitzer Fountain, Vladimir narrates the closing of his letter, telling his family that he hopes that they will be able to join him here someday, along with promising them that he will continue to write to them every week.