Yes, President Ronald Reagan gave the world so much. Including, of course, freedom. But everything has a cost. And with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union, movie-goers have been robbed of some of the finest protagonists in the free world: The Soviet defectors who cannot endure the heavy hand of the Motherland!
- Moscow on the Hudson (1984)--In his first break from manic comedy, Robin Williams plays Vladimir Ivanoff, a hairy-as-a-bear Russian saxophone player on a rare American tour. Giddy from the consumerism, Ivanoff defects right in the middle of NYC's Bloomingdales, and quickly falls in love with the perfume counter girl, played by Latina firecracker Maria Conchita Alonso. Yes, a love story ensues, but so does a rather heavy-duty dose of homesickness.
- White Nights (1985)--Eight years earlier, Nikolai Rochenko (Mikhail Baryshnikov) was a leotard-wearing national treasure of the Soviet Union when he defected to the free world. Then--imagine the dumb luck--his plane crashes while flying over the U.S.S.R.! Recaptured by the KGB, the cruel, cruel Bolsheviks shuffle Baryshnikov off to a remote cabin where, strangely enough, a black American dancer (Gregory Hines) lives with his Russian girlfriend and drinks lots of vodka. Hines is ordered to look after the ex-Soviet, but instead the two hatch a plan to waltz right back over the border. A clumsy plot, but elegant dance scenes ensue.
- The Hunt for Red October (1990)--A steely-eyed captain of a Soviet submarine (played by Sean "007" Connery) decides to take his crew for the ride of their furry hat-wearing lives. At the helm of Russia's newest sub, Cpt. Marko Ramius (Connery) defies top-brass orders and makes a break for American waters. Is he defecting? Is he single-handedly declaring war? No one knows, and both US and Soviet subs try to chase down the renegade. The sub's claustrophobia only heightens the intense desire for a breath of good, clean American air--which smells likeÉ freedom. PHIL BUSSE