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Oci Ciornie was an international co-production tailored for Marcello Mastroianni. It received good reviews in Italy and France, and Mastroianni was awarded Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival.
However, some in Russia felt that director Mikhalkov (who previously received wide acclaim for another Chekhov adaptation, (An Unfinished Piece for the Player Piano) tried too hard to cater to foreign tastes rather than to convey Chekhov's mood. So this film conveys more of a foreign idea what Chekhov is about rather than a Russian one.
In the story, Romano (Marcello Mastroianni) is living the life of a kept man in that he is the penniless husband of a rich aristocratic woman who supports him. Whenever life at home becomes too difficult for him, he goes off to some spa or other for a rest cure.
In addition to resting, the clownish fellow flirts shamelessly with the women he finds at these resorts. During one of his restorative excursions, he meets a shy Russian woman named Anna, whom he is much taken with. When she leaves to return to her life at home, he resolves to follow her and woo her there.
With a great deal of buffoonery and ingenuity (such as pretending to be a manufacturer of a special kind of glass), he gets a visa to travel into Russia. There, he finds her unhappily married to a minor official, and before he leaves for Europe he promises to return and marry her.
When he gets back home, he finds that his aristocratic wife is experiencing a genuine crisis (her family has lost its money), and he soon forgets about Anna and his promises to her.