70 Years After A Nazi Invasion, Poland Gets Respect: The Five Best Movie Poles

On September 1, 1939, German forces invaded Poland. Soviet troops joined the attack (in adherence to the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact) on September 16, and by the first of October, the country was entirely in enemy hands, and World War II was well underway.

Poland and its people have had enough problems, what with being partitioned (by Russia, Prussia, and Austria), then fighting against Czarist ambitions, Nazi Germany, and finally the Soviet Union, without putting up with constant jokes about their screen-door submarines and inability to change light bulbs. To help ameliorate this, and to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the September Campaign, here are some of the more memorable Polish characters from TV and film.

5. Walter Sobchak (John Goodman) -- The Big Lebowski

Just because a man is an adherent of a faith that is home to -- as he says, "three thousand years of beautiful tradition, from Moses to Sandy Koufax" -- doesn't mean he can't visualize murdering a pederast with a predilection for eight-year-olds.

Come to think of it, isn't "Lebowski" a Polish name, too? It's like a damn Krzysztof Kieslowski movie.

4. Det. Stan 'Wojo' Wojciehowicz (Max Gail) -- Barney Miller

Granted, not a movie character, but surely some allowances can be made for Max Gail's big galoot of a `70s cop, who somehow managed to elude criticism in spite of the fact that he was the embodiment of just about every perceived negative aspect of Polishness, right down to the bad haircut.

3. The Bielski Brothers -- Defiance (2008)

Less remarkable than the fact that the four Bielski siblings were able to keep some 1,200 Jewish refugees alive in the forests of Belarus for three years is the determined effort by all involved in the movie to avoid pointing out that blond, blue-eyed Tuvia Bielski (Daniel Craig) is obviously a Nazi infiltrator.

2. Marek Brzeczyszczykiewicz (Mariusz Pujszo) -- Gunblast Vodka (2000)

You can be forgiven for missing this one. After all, the title sounds like someone who speaks English as a second language randomly pulled two words from a John Milius screenplay. The character of police inspector Brzeczyscalifragalistic is as nasty a cop as we've seen since Bad Lieutenant. And Angie Everheart spends most of the movie in mud. How this didn't outgross Titanic is a mystery to me.

1. Stanley Kowalski (Marlon Brando) -- A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)

As popular as this movie was, it's surprising more people didn't develop a more positive impression of the Polish people based on Brando's hunky appearance. Even New Orleans without air conditioning must be tolerable when you've got pecs like that.

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