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Dolores del Rio,
A musical remake of Ninotchka: After three bumbling Soviet agents fail in their mission to retrieve a straying Soviet composer from Paris, the beautiful, ultra-serious Ninotchka is sent to complete their mission and to retrieve them. She starts out condemning the decadent West, but gradually falls under its spell, with the help of Steve Canfield, an American movie producer. Written by
John Oswalt <email@example.com>
After an adaption to Broadway as the final stage musical of Cole Porter's career, Ernest Lubitsch's acclaimed film Ninotchka, now Silk Stockings is getting its film treatment. Silk Stockings ran for 478 performances on Broadway in the 1955-1956 season and starred Don Ameche and Hildegarde Neff in the roles originally played by Melvyn Douglas and Greta Garbo.
For reasons I don't understand Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder's names are not given credit here. I distinctly heard a lot of lines from the original Ninotchka that came from them. I also heard some of the acid barbs of George S. Kaufman who worked with Abe Burrows on the book for Silk Stockings.
Most of Cole Porter's score makes it intact to the screen, but since the male and female leads were now dancers, Porter wrote Fated To Be Mated and The Ritz Roll and Rock for Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse. The latter is one of my favorite Astaire numbers from his film. Porter who was no mean satirist himself was having a bit of fun at the new trend in music called Rock and Roll in a spoof of Rock Around the Clock.
The plot from the original Ninotchka was changed and updated from the time of the pre-World War II Soviet Union of Stalin to the Cold War. Commissar Ninotchka is no longer concerned with selling jewels of the former nobility, she's negotiating with an American producer who wants a famous Russian composer to score his film adaption of War and Peace. Curiously enough War and Peace did make it to the screen the previous year.
Astaire as the producer also has a sexy, but very tough minded star in Janis Paige to contend with. Janis has her moments on screen with the song Josephine and singing and dancing with Astaire in Stereophonic Sound.
The big hit song from the score, All of You is sung and danced elegantly by Fred and Cyd. As usual Cyd's vocals were dubbed in this case by Carole Richards who used to be a regular for a while on Bing Crosby's radio show.
Peter Lorre, Jules Munshin, and Alexander Granach are the three commissars who Ninotchka has to bail out as in the original film. Granach repeats his role from Ninotchka. But George Tobias sets a record as the only player to appear in both film and the Broadway version. In the original Ninotchka he was the Soviet Embassy Official who balks at granting Melvyn Douglas a visa. On stage and on screen he plays the boss of Garbo/Neff/Charisse, a part that was done in the original Ninotchka by Bela Lugosi.
The comedy is a lot more broad than in the Lubitsch film, but with that Cole Porter music and the charm and dancing of Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse, Silk Stockings is a film you should not miss.
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