The paper is devoted to the discussion of the theory and methodology of studying the poetics of cinematic discourse and the creative use of language figurative means that plays an important role in its construal. It intends to show that the poetics of cinematic discourse can be regarded as a special field of research that stems from the formal school assumptions. As a starting point, the cultural events that influence the development of poetics of cinema are considered. Special attention is paid to the Russian formalists’ approach to art and literature, in which such phenomena as play and experiment in any kind of art, including cinema, gain exceptional relevance. These assumptions lead on to the conclusion about the significance of the language play in cinematic art. Taking into account the existence of various types and genres of the cinematic discourse, the present study focuses on the analysis of the Russian comedy films released in the 1960s. The research conducted has revealed the high frequency of cases of phraseological play as a variety of language play in the discourse under study. Six main strategies of modifying phraseologisms for poetic purposes in the comedy films are described. Special attention is paid to the strategy of visualizing phraseologisms based on the combination И.В. Зыкова 214 of cinematic shots that may be regarded as a unique strategy of the cinematic discourse. The research findings allow to come to the conclusion that verbal units modified by language play form a special layer of expressive (artistic) means of the poetics of comedy film discourse.