The ethnic nationality and socio-economic class ascribed to villains in Soviet films have in general coincided with those of real enemies under attack by the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. In addition, screen villains have usually been depicted as motivated by social goals in the realm of political power. Soviet film heroes, on the other hand, as a rule shared the ethnic nationality and socio-economic class of Communist Party members and their allies. They were portrayed as strong, active and capable of resistance to the villains. As Communist control over Soviet film content stiffened with the passage of time, the Party periodically required changes in the characterizations of film heroes and villains to keep pace with new developments in the domestic and foreign policies of the Bolshevik regime. Quantitative content analysis of Soviet films provides evidence that these demands have guided film-makers in the U.S.S.R. for many years.
For purposes of content analysis a sample of heroes and a sample of villains in Soviet films have been classified as to their ethnic nationality, socio-economic class, motivation, age, and sex. Motivation was divided into goals, in terms of a personal-social dichotomy, and into areas such as politics, economics, romantic love, family, and culture. Classification was based on total judgments which considered all clues pertaining to heroes and villains. The units chosen for analysis were complete full-length feature films produced between 1923 and 1950.
Practically all Soviet films discussed in available English-language publications were included in the two samples, provided that an adequate description of their content was obtainable. The titles of over 400 Soviet films were found by perusal of books, magazines and newspapers in the English