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A detective novel, the Wainer brothers' The Age of Charity, written in 1975, became basis for this 5-part 1979 miniseries. In a case of Adaptation Displacement, the popularity of the film has eclipsed that of the book.

Both tell the story of a young and idealistic army officer Vladimir Sharapov, who retires from the Soviet Army after WWII ends and is assigned for duty to Moscow Criminal Police (МУР in Russian). There he comes under the command of Gleb Zheglov, an experienced, brilliant, and no-nonsense police officer, who becomes a Big Brother Mentor to Sharapov. They investigate several murder cases connected to the activities of the infamous Black Cat gang (loosely based on a real gang or group of gangs operating in post-WWII Moscow).

The film was directed by Stanislav Govorukhin and soon hit the most-beloved-films Top-10 in Soviet Union. An urban legend claims that there were no crimes committed during the time the series was first shown - all the criminals were at home, watching the television. Nowadays, it is still popular and considered to be a TV classic. The TV format is five hour long series (common for TV series in Soviet Union).

Examples of The Meeting Place Cannot Be Changed include:
  • Affably Evil: Val'ka the Smoked is quite friendly towards Zheglov.
  • Anti-Hero: Gleb Zheglov is a Type III.
  • Badass: Gleb Zheglov again.
  • Bad Guys Play Pool
  • Bittersweet Ending
  • By-The-Book Cop: Vladimir Sharapov, which is what first brings him into conflict with Zheglov.
  • Calling Card: the Black Cat gang leave a cat drawing or an actual cat at the scene of the crime.
  • The Charmer: Zheglov uses guile to get what he needs from witnesses, criminals and coworkers. However, he also has the ability to switch from friendly to ruthless in a very short time.
  • Crime Reconstruction: subverted. Sharapov convinces the bad guys that Fox can be rescued while he reconstructs a crime "on location". This is in fact a part of a desperate Batman Gambit on his part.
  • Conveniently Unverifiable Cover Story: a very complex and well-though-out one at that.
  • Cunning Like a Fox: Fox, a member of the Black Cat gang.
  • Da Chief: Superintendent Svirskiy.
  • Evil Cripple: Hunchback.
  • Executive Meddling: The film was to be titled The Age of Charity, but comrade Lapin, the minister of TV and Radio, said that the title must be changed, because "Charity is a priest-ish word". Thus film was titled The Meeting Place Cannot Be Changed and Lapin's phrase was given to Gleb Zheglov and became a meme.
    • Also, Sharapov's girlfriend was granted a reprieve (she was supposed to die, but aforementioned Lapin thought it would be too much for the viewers who would have to see the deaths of both Levchenko and Varya and go to work the next day).
  • Five-Man Band:
  • Framing the Guilty Party: Zheglov plants evidence to extract information from a known petty thief named Brick.
  • Good Cop, Bad Cop: the suspect points out that he's familiar with the trope from literature, as well as the psychological reasons this works in real life even if the suspect is familiar with it. As expected, it does work, after a fashion - possibly because the Good Cop does like the suspect and the Bad Cop does loathe him.
  • Guttural Growler: Zheglov.
  • The Hero: clean-cut Sharapov fits the bill.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: Zheglov's modus operandi.
  • Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: Blotter (Promokashka)
  • Jerkass: A several criminals, especially Kostya the Brick Saprykin.
  • Large Ham: Gleb Zheglov performed by Vladimir Vysotsky - in awesome way.
  • The Munchausen: Grisha "Six To Nine". Zheglov even calls him "a grandson to Baron Von Munchausen".
  • Naive Newcomer: Vladimir Sharapov, former infantery scout, in role of cop.
  • Nice Hat: Zheglov's.
  • One-Scene Wonder: Evgeni Evstigneev as Pen-Master (Ruchechnik).
  • Sacrificial Lion: Vasya Vekshin.
  • Shakespearian Actors: Hamlet as Zheglov.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: The main theme of the film. Sharapov represents Idealism, Zheglov pepresents Cynicism. The highest point of antagonism is a scene with petty thief Kirpich (the Brick) framed by Zheglov for the sake of information about Fox. While juxtaposed, neither of the attitudes is shown to be better than the other.
  • Soft Glass: averted. See trope page for details.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Varya.
  • Street Urchin: Zheglov was this, as revealed when he offhandedly drops a few lines on his backstory.
  • Suicide by Cop: Sharapov's former subordinate scout Levchenko who became a member of Black Cat gang, commits a runaway attempt deliberately to be shot by Zheglov.
  • This Is Sparta: "Criminal! Is! To! Be! Jailed!"
  • Train Escape: Interestingly, the guys being chased don't know it, and only use the Train Escape as a habitual precaution.
  • Villainous Breakdown: When Fox realises that Sharapov had tricked him into writing a letter to the Black Cat gang, he suddenly loses his self-confidence.
  • Vladimir Vysotsky
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