Alexei German's third film as director is based on stories written by his father, prominent author Yuri German. The mostly black-and-white film begins with a present-day color sequence, then reverts to monochrome and the freezing winter of 1935, when the narrator was nine years old.
The boy lived in an apartment with his father and two other men, Police Chief Ivan Lapshin (Andrei Boltnev) and his officious underling (Alexei Zharkov).
The story focuses on Lapshin as he tracks down a gang of crooks in his provincial Russian village, helps his recently widowed friend, and enters into a tentative relationship with an actress (Nina Ruslanova). Capable direction by German and a talented ensemble cast make this detailed look at the pre-purge Soviet Union both entertaining and richly rewarding.