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Ninotchka (1939) Poster

(1939)

Trivia

This was one of Ernst Lubitsch's personal favorite films. His other favorites were The Shop Around the Corner (1940) and Trouble in Paradise (1932).
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Curiously enough, this was the very movie Arnold Schwarzenegger studied when he was trying to find his character for Red Heat (1988). The exercise - emulate Greta Garbo - was recommended to him by his director Walter Hill.
Greta Garbo had her misgivings about appearing in a comedy and was particularly nervous about the drunk scene, which she considered to be highly vulgar.
The movie was banned in the Soviet Union and its satellite states.
The tagline "Garbo laughs!" came before the screenplay was written; the film was built around that single, now legendary, slogan.
Greta Garbo did not wear any makeup for her scenes where she is the stern envoy.
Allegedly, after a test screening of Ninotchka, one audience member wrote on the preview card: "I laughed so hard, I peed in my girlfriend's hand!"
Ernst Lubitsch only signed on as director after George Cukor decamped for Gone with the Wind (1939). As part of his deal for directing, MGM agreed to make The Shop Around the Corner (1940) for Lubitsch afterwards.
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Ernst Lubitsch disliked Gottfried Reinhardt and S.N. Behrman's original screenplay, so he commissioned a rewrite from Billy Wilder, Charles Brackett and Walter Reisch. Lubitsch himself made some significant uncredited contributions to the screenplay.
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Although Greta Garbo's famous hat in the film was made by her regular costumier Adrian, it was actually based on a sketch by Garbo herself.
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According to published newspaper reports in the spring of 1939, Spencer Tracy was a leading contender for the role of Leon. William Powell, Robert Montgomery and Cary Grant were also considered for the part.
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This film was selected to the National Film Registry, Library of Congress, in 1990.
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The review of "Ninotchka" in Time Magazine was written by Whittaker Chambers. Chambers had been an undercover spy for Russia until 1938. Of course, his relationship to Russia and Communism was not known when he wrote his review. Chambers went on to become famous when, in 1948, he accused Alger Hiss of being a spy.
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