best film:  There are two possibilities to the question of Tatyana Samoylova’s best film. The Cranes Are Flying trumps Letter Never Sent but that is a phenomenal pair at the top. Both films were made at the hands of director Mikhail Kalatozov and renowned photographer Sergey Urusevskiy. Sadly, Samoylova was not a part of 1964’s I Am Cuba to collaborate for a third time with Kalatozov and Urusevskiy.


Tatyana Samoylova at just the age of twenty-three (23) here in The Cranes Are Flying



best performance:   Samoylova plays Veronika in The Cranes are Flying and that is certainly her high-water mark as an actor. Samoylova is sublime in Letter Never Sent and certainly gets as much or more of the camera’s attention than her two co-leads do (Innokentiy Smoktunovskiy as Konstantin and Vasily Livanov as Andrey).


again from The Cranes Are Flying – the highlight of Samoylova’s short-lived, but spectacular career



stylistic innovations/traits:   Tatyana Samoylova is a Russian actor with just seventeen (17) total film credits under her belt for her career and just two of those were in archiveable films. The two films make for a truncated resume for sure – and her The Cranes Are Flying performance is not Marie Falconetti in The Passion of Joan of Arc – but Letter Never Sent helps keep her from being a one-hit wonder.


directors worked with:  Mikhail Kalatozov (2)


Letter Never Sent (1960) – Samoylova’s (playing Tanya) second time working with Mikhail Kalatozov


top five performances:

  1. The Cranes Are Flying
  2. Letter Never Sent


archiveable films

1957- The Cranes Are Flying
1960- Letter Never Sent