51 user 14 critic

Moscow on the Hudson (1984)

2:20 | Trailer
When a Russian musician defects in Bloomingdale's department store in New York, he finds adjusting to American life more difficult than he imagined.


Paul Mazursky
Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Robin Williams ... Vladimir Ivanoff
Maria Conchita Alonso ... Lucia Lombardo
Cleavant Derricks ... Lionel Witherspoon
Alejandro Rey ... Orlando Ramirez
Saveliy Kramarov ... Boris (as Savely Kramarov)
Elya Baskin ... Anatoly
Oleg Rudnik Oleg Rudnik ... Yury
Aleksandr Benyaminov ... Vladimir's Grandfather (as Alexander Beniaminov)
Lyudmila Kramarevskaya Lyudmila Kramarevskaya ... Vladimir's Mother (as Ludmila Kramarevsky)
Ivo Vrzal-Wiegand Ivo Vrzal-Wiegand ... Vladimir's Father (as Ivo Vrzal)
Natalya Ivanova Natalya Ivanova ... Sasha (as Natalie Iwanow)
Tiger Haynes Tiger Haynes ... Lionel's Grandfather
Eyde Byrde Eyde Byrde ... Lionel's Mother (as Edye Byrde)
Robert MacBeth Robert MacBeth ... Lionel's Stepfather
Donna Ingram-Young Donna Ingram-Young ... Leanne


A Russian circus visits the US. A clown wants to defect, but doesn't have the nerve. His saxophone playing friend however comes to the decision to defect in the middle of Bloomingdales. He is befriended by the black security guard and falls in love with the Italian immigrant from behind the perfume counter. We follow his life as he works his way through the American dream and tries to find work as a musician. Written by Zaphod <aaa@scs.leeds.ac.uk>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


America is sometimes a strange place even for Americans. Let alone for Vladimir Ivanoff, a Russian defector with a black roommate, a Cuban lawyer, and an Italian girlfriend. Who's learning to live with Big Macs, cable TV, hard rock, softcore, unemployment and a whole new wonderful word for him. Freedom. See more »


Comedy | Drama | Romance


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »





English | Russian

Release Date:

6 April 1984 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Moscú en Nueva York See more »


Box Office


$13,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$3,536,687, 8 April 1984

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


One of the film's main movie posters which was an aerial view of New York City was the subject of a successful civil lawsuit from artist Saul Steinberg. Steinberg sued alleging that the movie poster infringed the copyright of his renown 1976 ink, pencil, colored pencil, and watercolor on paper "View of the World from Ninth Avenue" illustrative cover of the 29/03/1976 edition of 'The New Yorker' magazine [See Case: Steinberg v. Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc., 663 F. Supp. 706 (S.D.N.Y. 1987)]. See more »


Road signs in Moscow scenes are messy. For instance, Vladimir passes sign "no vehicles allowed" and some meters after you can see the sign "parking forbidden" which means a vehicle suppose to disrespect 1st sign to succeed in disrespecting then the 2nd. See more »


french man on bus: [first lines]
french man on bus: Excuse me, sir. Does this bus go to the Lincoln Center?
See more »

Alternate Versions

CBS edited 19 minutes from this film for its 1986 network television premiere. See more »


References WarGames (1983) See more »


Written & Performed by Waylon Jennings
Courtesy of RCA Records
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

An Eighties-style take on American freedom's superiority to totalitarianism
14 October 2006 | by flesch-3See all my reviews

Moscow on the Hudson is a fabulous example of a pretty-good movie chock full of 1980s artifacts like Jordache jeans, feathered hair-dos and Afro Sheen, that is often surprisingly interesting, sensitive and even occasionally profound -- especially on the level of the victory of the individual soul over totalitarianism, and the defense of American capitalism against Marxism.

This film brings back a flood of cultural memories of the Eighties, the decade immediately preceding the collapse of the Soviet Union, a time in the United States when our political and cultural self-esteem matched our economic prosperity. It doesn't hurt that this movie stars a young bearded Robin Williams with heart (and Russian soul!) and a really cute and occasionally nude young Maria Conchita Alonso (a real-life Venezuelan immigrant) full of Italian passion and an ambitious independent spirit.

Only in the early 1980s could blue jeans from Bloomies, velvety white toilet paper, supermarket coffee, studio apartments, hot-dog stands, cab-driving jobs, and U.S. citizenship ceremonies be portrayed as symbols -- indeed even weapons -- of democratic capitalism in a world still governed "from Stettin on the Baltic to Varna on the Black Sea" by the totalitarian evil against which President Ronald Reagan called a crusade two years earlier in his famous 1982 Evil Empire speech to the House of Commons.

The political content of the movie is startlingly black-and-white by today's standards of multiculturalism and moral relativism when many academics defend dictatorships' "sovereign right" to exist, and so the offhand manner with which at every turn the film's writers Paul Mazursky and Leon Capetanos deliver praise to political liberty, capitalism and America's unique cultural acceptance of immigrants dedicated to the pursuit of happiness is remarkable. While the way in which their praises are conveyed may from time-to-time seem a little cheesy, sentimental or dated, their profound significance is not diminished.

Exactly because capitalism is an economic system as well as a social system, Robin William's character is portrayed as a Russian seeking a remedy for his literal physical hunger and basic financial requirements of life that socialism fails to satisfy. His Russian friend, played wonderfully by Elya Baskin, suffers from socialism's other often dramatized evil -- its humiliating and paralyzing effect on an individual's creative mind and psychology. Perhaps it is precisely because the film's focus is on Williams' character that Moscow on the Hudson at times comes off as exhibiting the over-the-top 1980s commercialism that made it popular then and a little startling in today's Greener age.

Russophiles can get a kick out of some of the Russia scenes. Highlights include the drab Moscow Circus on Tsvetnoi Boulevard including full-figured women in polyester; sour old babushkas enforcing their place in line; and shoe vendors pushing the wrong sizes. They might also find some treatment of Soviet atrocities like sending war protesters to mental institutions, or neighbors reporting dissidents to the KGB a bit trite, but not inaccurate. Such horrors are no less relevant in Putin's Russia of today (October 2006), where the most recent contract killing of independent politicians, businessmen and intellectuals is journalist Anna Politkovskaya.

While I've focused on the political content, this movie is not primarily a political piece, but a love story; and not primarily a love story, but a romance of personal initiative -- of immigrants who choose to reject the oppressive circumstances they left behind and to seize the chance to pursue their material survival and eventually, individual happiness. The aims of the film are high, maybe even too high at times for this light film to be able to achieve fully; but it is definitely touching and fairly deals with the array of issues every immigrant faces on a variety of levels. I personally found the love relationship between Williams and Alonso to be touchingly realistic at times; and the individualistic focus of this film to be refreshing, as well as a shocking reminder of how inappropriately self-conscious the American media has become in publicly asserting the universal truth and appeal of its core principles: freedom and capitalism.

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