Polish Language Blog

Four Tankmen And a Dog Posted by on Jul 29, 2008 in Culture

I woke up this morning humming the theme song from “Czterej pancerni i pies” (Four Tankmen And a Dog). Don’t ask me why – I must have had some really wacky dreams last night. Mercifully, I remember nothing. So how did this song get stuck in my head this morning? A total mystery to me.

It’s an even greater mystery that I still remember all the words to it. And that is truly scary – the last time I heard this song was sometime in 1981.

Oh wait! You have no clue what I’m talking about, now do you?
Sorry, my bad! Let me explain.

Czterej pancerni i pies” was a Polish TV series from the late 60s. It was based on a book by Janusz Przymanowski and was about, well, four guys in a tank and their dog. And you could say that as far as Polish TV series go, this one was very successful. So successful in fact, that it achieved a cult status, of sorts, in Poland. Even though only 21 episodes had been made, they’d been rerun and rerun ad nauseam – every year to be exact, up until, oh maybe 1989. Then after the fall of communism, people suddenly got better things to watch on TV, yet still “Czterej pancerni…” remained popular.

It was reissued on DVD in 2000 and apparently the DVD version even has English subtitles. I’ve been hunting for it, but so far – no luck.

I suppose you could ask any random Pole (even one born after 1980) if they’re familiar with Rudy, Szarik and the tank crew, and I betcha they’d say “yes”.
Rudy was the name of their tank, and Szarik was their dog.

The series was full of pro-Soviet propaganda, but it also depicted WW2 with a humorous slant and was simply action-filled fun. And if you consider the times and the production value, you realize it was also superbly made.

It’s become fashionable lately to slam it for the way it portrayed Polish-Russian friendships or the glories of the Soviet Army, though if you watch closely, you’ll notice that the creators had managed to sneak in a few critical bits past the communist censors of the day, as well.

For all its shortcomings, it was a great series. It had friendship, love, humor, action and a dog. And who could NOT love Szarik the German shepherd?

Other than the dog, what evidently got stuck in my head is the opening song “Deszcze niespokojne” (“Restless Rains”) by Edmund Fetting. Don’t worry, I won’t sing it for you, if I did, I doubt I’d be allowed to continue writing this blog. Instead, you can listen to the opening theme here.

Words for today:

  • serial (noun, masculine, non-person, plural: seriale) = series
  • telewizyjny (adjective, masculine) = television as an adjective.

So if you add these together, you’ll get:

  • serial telewizyjny = TV series
Tags: , ,
Keep learning Polish with us!

Build vocabulary, practice pronunciation, and more with Transparent Language Online. Available anytime, anywhere, on any device.

Try it Free Find it at your Library
Share this:
Pin it


  1. Grazyna:

    Especially for you, Anna and the readers: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uy8ck_2hyu8&feature=related – here you can listen to the song about the 4 tank men and their clever dog:-) These old films have this genuineness about them and some charm, don’t they?

  2. Anna:

    Hi G!

    There’s a link in the blog post (last paragraph) – I managed to find the actual opening sequence with credits! It felt so nostalgic watching it, I tell ya! And I never realized just how ugly Janek was. Ugh! It hit me yesterday. Dang, that guy was ugly!

  3. Grazyna:

    oh, you see! What is the moral in this? G. shouldn’t read anything in the morning, right after waking up! 😉 (do please delete the first sentence in my 1st comment not to create confusion, ok?)
    Btw. I never fancied any of them… – oh, perhaps because I wasn’t thinking about these things at that time yet! 😉

  4. Tom Maholski:

    I listened to the song, then watched one of the shows of the series. Sorry to say I didn’t understand anything but “dobry”. I can understand how it would have been a popular show in its day.

  5. jjagr:

    “The series was full of pro-Soviet propaganda” Really? The first eight episodes is a simple story about simple people at the war. The rest is a humorous adventure. The serial is still popular because Janusz Gajos, Franciszek Pieczka and Wiesław Gołas are simply the world class actors much better than many Hollywood stars.
    P.S. Sorry my English

  6. Anna:

    Hi J!
    I totally agree with you, but not very many people share our point of view and always blast about this propaganda stuff. Though you gotta admit that the Ruskis were always shown in a VERY favorable light on “Czterej…”
    And you’re also right about the guys’ acting talent – I think the same is true about many other Polish stars from that era.
    PS. There’s nothing wrong with your English 😉

  7. jjagr:

    I think the Russian were shown in normal way if you take into consideration the kind of this serial. The Ruskis are “part of a landscape” only. Maybe it is strange but thanks to Pancerni I learned that there was Gen. Maczek brigade on the western front.

  8. Ramses:

    Back in the time when I was studying Russian I downloaded (ahhh, download, evil! Hehe) the dubbed DVD’s. You could turn off the dubbing and have the Polish. It was off some newsgroup, I can’t remember the name.

  9. Anna:

    How cool! I didn’t even know there was a version dubbed in Russian. But on the second thought, I’m not surprised. Myself, I am still searching for a DVD with English subtitles, to buy, not to download. LOL! 😉

  10. Natasha:

    Hi Anna! Great job on the blog. I love that show. When I was little it used to be on almost every summer (have no idea why summer) and I never missed an episode. Last time I was in Russia, I actually bought the DVD, but didn’t have time to watch it yet.

  11. Max:

    Talking of tanks:In order to avoid future disappointments, ex Warsaw Pact countries should know that USA needs them as a canon fodder fighting Russia. The idea certainly wasn’t spilling American blood defending them from Russia.

  12. tman:

    how many Ruskis died for Polish freedom in WW II
    and how any American was there? Really fun movies and dont forget a beatifull Marusia

  13. John:

    If no one found this movie it is here. Too bad I can’t take it back to America due to different formats.


  14. mike:

    You must remember but russians in 39′ first attack Poland and be a friend Germany… Film is good but there are many soviet propaganda! Remember this! PS: Every comunist must die!:P hi!

  15. Rick Idak:

    I visited Poland in late 74-april 75 during school holidays. Caught this as it was repeated on TV at the time Poland only had one channel.
    Enjoyed it quite a lot and sitting around the TV with Polish kids. Then running around outside re-enacting the episode we just saw. Fun times from a more simple age. Just kept telling the kids, that the Russians weren’t your friends the producers only showed them as that because of pressure and the Soviet yoke. Because I was from the west the kids all liked me and I was very popular. Came back home to be less than normal and unnoticed.

  16. Inese:

    Great movie indeed – just watced after about 20 years and it is still good! Of course there is some propaganda of good Soviets, but much moore frienship, love, just very young people being involved in a terrible war… A really good humor, far better than sometimes novadays. And a Dog!!! I love the film, music, great actors!

  17. Martin Hawrylkiewicz:

    Hello. I’m from NY but was born in Poland and grew up watching this series on television and really loved it. I have an old book in Polish, Czterej Pancerni i pies but my Polish isn’t that great anymore. I was wondering if you know if there ever was an English translation of this novel? Thank you.