Vanja on 42nd Street

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German title Vanja on the 42nd street
Original title Vanya on 42nd Street
Country of production USA
Original language English
Year of publication 1995
Length 120 minutes
Age rating FSK 6
Director Louis Malle
Script Andre Gregory
Production Fred Berner
Music Joshua Redman
Camera Declan Quinn
Edited by Nancy Baker
  • Phoebe Brand: Nanny
  • Lynn Cohen: Maman
  • George Gaynes: Serybryakov
  • Jerry Mayer: Waffles
  • Julianne Moore: Yelena
  • Larry Pine: Dr. Astrov
  • Brooke Smith: Sonya
  • Wallace Shawn: Vanya
  • Madhur Jaffrey: Miss Chao

Vanya on 42nd Street is a 1994 film directed by Louis Malle. It is based on the play Uncle Vanya by Anton Pavlovich Chekhov.


The film was shot at New York’s New Amsterdam Theatre on 42nd Street.
The film shows a group of actors who meet to rehearse the play Uncle Vanya. They play without background scenery and wear street clothes. In the middle of the play they take a break, eat, and continue playing.


“A play about a wasted life, full of world-weariness, set in the depths of the Russian soul. Outstanding actors, a clever cinematic concept and excellent camera work make the film an experience that viewers will have to engage with, though.”

Encyclopedia of International Film[1]

Style guide

The film is minimalist in style and dispenses with costumes and background scenery. Due to the quality of the actors and the play, the viewer forgets the minimalist set and focuses on the play being presented.


  • The leading actor Shawn, the theatre director Gregory and the film director Malle had already worked together in 1981 for the film My Dinner with André.
  • Director Gregory and a group of actors rehearsed the play Uncle Vanya at New York’s Amsterdam Theater on 42nd Street. In the process, the actors wore normal street clothes and admitted a select audience that did not have to pay admission. Gregory and Malle decided to make a film of this type of performance.
  • It was Malle’s last film.

Film awards and nominations

  • 1995 Chlotrudis Awards for Wallace Shawn as Best Leading Actor
  • 1995 Nomination: Chlotrudis Awards for Louis Malle for Best Film
  • 1995 Nomination: Chlotrudis Awards for Julianne Moore as Best Actress in a Leading Role
  • 1995 Nomination: Chlotrudis Awards for Brooke Smith as Best Supporting Actress
  • The German Film and Media Rating FBW in Wiesbaden awarded the film the rating “valuable”.

Web links

Individual references

  1. Vanja on 42nd Street. In: encyclopedia ofinternational film. Filmdienst, retrieved 30 August 2017. template:LdiF/maintenance/accessedused