Czterej pancerni i pies

Directed by Konrad Nałęcki, Andrzej Czekalski

Konrad Nałęcki, the main Director responsible for the series, filmed it based on a book by Janusz Przymanowski, who also wrote the script for this TV series.
Czterej pancerni i pies/Four tank-men and a dog is one of the most-legendary film series made by Polish Television, considered to be the best Polish film series of all time, together with Stawka większa niż życie/More Than Life at Stake.
The series portrays the combat trail of the crew of tank No. 102, nicknamed Rudy. 

The success of the series was the result of a combination of several elements.  One of the most-important was the light and full-of-humour approach to the War which had ended 21 years ago, bereft of any martyrdom.

Another solid aspect of the series was the excellent acting skills demonstrated by both the actors in the leading roles and those playing episodic parts.

The pilot episode of the series, Załoga (The Crew), was broadcast on 9th May 1966, at 8:00 p.m., on Polish Television.

Bydgoszcz, Toruń, Świecie, and the vicinity of Chełmno

The film crew visited four locations in the Province of Kujawsko-Pomorskie, namely Świecie, Starogród near Chełmno, Bydgoszcz, and Toruń.

The greatest number of shots was taken in Bydgoszcz, where as many as 4 episodes of the second series were filmed.
The following episodes were filmed in Bydgoszcz: Zamiana (episode 9), Czerwona seria (episode 14), Wysoka woda (episode 15), and Daleki patrol (episode 16).

The film crew camped by the Brda River from 19th August 1968 to the end of September 1968. In the episodes mentioned above, Bydgoszcz played the German town called Ritzen, where the tank crew experienced some serious fighting. The filmmakers used various locations, including

  • the vicinity of ul. Fordońska, the buildings in the Rzemieślnicze Housing Estate, and the steel Fordon Bridge over the Vistula River
  • a rather anonymous lock on the river canal in the Kapuściska Housing Estate,
  • the Fish Market in the Old Town
  • ul. Św. Trójcy in the city centre
  • the Okole Lock on the Bydgoszcz Canal, where they filmed large-scale battle scenes, when the tank crew defended against a massive German attack, including a devastating explosion which destroyed the gates of the lock
  • the buildings of the Stomil S.A. Company, the vicinity of Mill Island (the “Venice of Bydgoszcz”), ul. Malczewskiego, ul. Grodzka, and the lock on the Old Bydgoszcz Canal on ul. Grottgera
  • the building of the local post office on ul. Jagiellońska.*

In Toruń, the film crew did shooting for episode 6, entitled Burza. The filmmakers used the access way to the Józef Piłsudski  Bridge from the direction of the Old Town.The Old Parish Church in Świecie played in episode 16 entitled Daleki patrol, in which it became the place where Janek and Marusia meet for a date, while the area near Chełmno by the Vistula River was used to film the crossing over the Brda River (in the film, it is the Vistula River), and the scene in which the tank crew of Rudy is captured – it happens in episode 13, entitled Zakład o śmierć.

Trivia

  • 300 actors and extras were involved in the making of the film.
  • In 1968, Radio Free Europe reported that a cannon was stolen from the film set.
  • Two German shepherds, Trymek and Atak, played Szarik on the film set in Bydgoszcz.
  • A total of five dogs appeared in the film. The main four-legged protagonist in the film had two doubles, and there were also two little mongrels, which played little Szarik.
  • The effect of the foaming-water wave flooding the “market square in Ritzen” was achieved by adding IXI washing powder. popular at the time, to the water.
  • The German Tiger and Panther tanks were in fact Russian T-34 tanks, only converted and covered with mock-ups. The same tank was used by the tank crew in the entire film series.
  • Two more series of the film were made, following the success of the first one. In the last series, the valiant tank crew, their dog Szarik, and the Rudy 102 tank go as far as Berlin itself.   The series was filmed in the years 1966-1970.
  • Toruń is home to Stowarzyszenie Klub Pancernych (an all-Poland association of enthusiasts of film). Its members travel all around the country collecting memorabilia connected with the adventures of the four tank-men and a dog.
  • The film was shot in various outdoor locations all around Poland.
    The majority of it was filmed on the vast training ground in Żagań, the Lubusz Land, and on the Biedrusko training ground near Poznań. In addition, the film locations include Gdynia, Krynica Morska, and the Kłodzko Valley.
  • When filming near Chełmno, the film crew spent their nights in one of the boarding houses in Chełmno.

Information on the series

Czterej pancerni i pies /Four tank-men and a dog

Poland 1966-1970, TV series

Directed by: Konrad Nałęcki, Andrzej Czekalski

Screenplay: Janusz Przymanowski, Maria Przymanowska, Stanisław Wohl

Cinematography: Romuald Kropat, Mikołaj Sprudin

Music: Wojciech Kilar, Adam Walaciński

Produced by: Zespół Realizatorów Filmowych Syrena, Wytwórnia Filmów Fabularnych in Wrocław, Wytwórnia Filmów Fabularnych in Łódź

Cast: Janusz Gajos, Wiesław Gołas, Franciszek Pieczka, Włodzimierz Press, Roman Wilhelmi, Pola Raksa, Małgorzata Niemirska, and others.

Selected Awards

The 1st Degree Award of the Ministry of Culture and Art for Janusz Przymanowski, Konrad Nałęcki, Stanisław Wohl, and Romuald Kropat.  The 1st Degree Award of the Ministry of National Defence for Janusz Przymanowski, Stanisław Wohl, Konrad Nałęcki, Romuald Kropat, Pola Raksa, Janusz Gajos, Tadeusz Kalinowski, Janusz Kłosiński, Franciszek Pieczka, Włodzimierz Press, and Roman Wilhelmi.

* A complex analysis of the filmmakers’ visit to Bydgoszcz was published by Tomasz Izajasz, Łukasz Mamert-Nadolski, PhD, Łukasz Skoczek, Magdalena Jurczyk, and Karolina Glabus, as a book entitled Czterej pancerni i pies – śladami filmowej sagi w Bydgoszczy, Four tank and the dog-the footsteps of the film saga in Bydgoszcz, in which they listed all the locations in Bydgoszcz used in the film series.

Chełmno

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Bydgoszcz

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