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In 1920s Soviet Russia, a fallen aristocrat, a priest and a con artist search for a treasure of jewels hidden inside one of twelve dining chairs, lost during the revolution.

It's the late 1920's Soviet Union. Ippolit Matveevich Vorobyaninov was an aristocrat prior to the Russian Revolution, but in addition to squandering away most of his wife's family's money at that time, lost everything during the revolution and now is a lowly government bureaucrat. He learns from his mother-in-law, on her deathbed, that during the revolution she hid all her jewels in what were then one of their twelve dining room chairs so that the Bolsheviks could not get a hold of them. Those jewels would now be worth upwards of 200,000 rubles, enough for Vorobyaninov once again to live a lavish life. Going back to the old family home where the dining room set should still be, he finds that the chairs have been largely dispersed individually. As he is a feckless man, he goes into cahoots with Ostap Bender, a con artist, to search for the twelve chairs, the prize being the unknown one with the hidden jewels. In addition to their task, they find that they have to steer one other off that search, namely the family priest, Father Fyodor, who learned of the jewels in Vorobyaninov's mother-in-law's last confession and who now wants the jewels for himself. Through and after the process of trying to locate the prized chair, Vorobyaninov may find out his true lot in life, or at least that for his immediate future.


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