Only the royal suite at the grandest hotel in Paris has a safe large enough for the jewels of the Grand Duchess Swana. So the three Russians who have come to sell the jewels settle into the suite until a higher ranking official is dispatched to find out what is delaying the sale. She is Ninotchka, a no nonsense woman who fascinates Count Leon who had been the faithful retainer of the Grand Duchess. The Grand Duchess will give up all claim to the jewels if Ninotchka will fly away from the count. Written by
Dale O'Connor <email@example.com>
Ninotchka has been making a hit with audiences since she hit the screen in 1939. A fascinating, yet little known, "second life" of the film was played out during the Italian Elections of 1947-48. The U.S. was most anxious that the Communists not be elected and pulled out all the stops to prevent it. One was to approach MGM and request prints of Ninotchka
to be shown widely to working class audiences in Italy. Since no 16mm
prints of the film yet existed, MGM Labs did "print downs" from the original nitrate negative. The resulting prints are astonishingly beautiful (I have one) and they estimate five million Italians viewed it and other propaganda films each week before the elections - in spite of the efforts of the Communists to prevent its showing. One pro-Communist worker said afterward "What licked us was Ninotchka!" (See "Killing Hope" by William Blum). To paraphrase Carl Denham in King Kong, once again "Beauty Killed The Beast!"
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