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Lemonade Joe or Horse Opera

Oldřich Lipský
Limonádový Joe aneb Koňská opera
Czechoslovakia 1964 / 98’
Eastern Bloc Hits

This cult film from Czechoslovakia is a musical parody of the American Western, spiced up with tricks by the godfather of Czech animation Jiří Trnka. It includes a dream cast of acclaimed actors with great songs by Karel Gott and Waldemar Matuška.

Made at a time of exuberant hope that Czechoslovakia could break free of the 1950s Stalinist ideological grip and head towards more freedom, the very choice in Lemonade Joe of the Western and of satirical comedy is a step contrary to the official view of the genre as ‘degenerate and damaging’.

There is a fight between the handsome hero, Joe, and an ugly scoundrel on a typical main street of a small town in the far West. Joe is an agent for the manufacturer of the ‘Kolaloka’ soft drink, and is trying to enforce prohibition, but the film’s value is not in the plot. Five decades later, its slightly oppositionist undertone has disappeared, while its charm, bravura and humour ensured it 4.5 million viewers; the film is still regularly shown on Czech and Slovak TV stations.

Eva Vzentekova / Rotterdam IFF


San Sebastián IFF 1964 – Silver Seashell

Oldřich Lipský

Born in 1924, died in 1986 in Czechoslovakia. He was a Prague filmmaker who specialised in comedies. He was a great lover of the circus and made several films and a TV series about circus life. Man of the First Century (1961) was nominated for a Golden Palm. In 1964, he won a prize at the San Sebastián International Film Festival with Lemonade Joe.

Selected filmography

1950 Slepice a kostelník / The Hen and the Sexton

1954 Dziś wieczór gramy! / Cirkus bude! / Circus

1961 Człowiek z pierwszego stulecia / Muž z prvního století / Man of the First Century

1964 Lemoniadowy Joe / Limonádový Joe aneb Koňská opera / Lemonade Joe or Horse Opera

1970 Trup w każdej szafie / Čtyři vraždy stačí, drahoušku / Four Murders Are Enough, Darling

1977 Niech żyją duchy! / Ať žijí duchové! / Long Live Ghosts!

1977 Adela jeszcze nie jadła kolacji / Adéla ještě nevečeřela / Dinner for Adele

1981 Tajemnica zamku w karpatach / Tajemství hradu v Karpatech / The Mysterious Castle in the Carpathians


Cast & Crew

director Oldřich Lipský
screenplay Jiří Brdečka, Oldřich Lipský, based on a novel and play by Jiří Brdečka
cinematography Vladimír Novotný
editing Miroslav Hájek
music Jan Rychlík, Vlastimil Hála
cast Karel Fiala, Miloš Kopecký, Květa Fialová, Olga Schoberová
producer Jaroslav Jílovec
production Filmové studio Barrandov
sales Prague National Film Archive
source of print Prague National Film Archive
language Czech
colouration b&w