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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The only word to describe this Ernst Lubitsch comedy is: sparkling.
Tremendously sweet and funny in that gentle way that was unique to Ernst Lubitsch comedies, "Ninotchka" features a winning Greta Garbo as a Soviet envoy dispatched to Paris to check up on the work of her comrades. They have been sent to sell the confiscated jewels of a Russian countess, played haughtily by Ina Claire. She refuses to let them go without a fight, and enlists the help of her attorney and playboy (Melvyn Douglas) to win them back. Unfortunately for her, he falls under the charms of Ninotchka, as do we.
I have never been a fan of Garbo or the moody brooding she was always asked to do in her films. Lubitsch completely understood the image she had in the public's collective mind, and so for the first half of this movie, Garbo presents a parody of herself, refusing to crack a smile despite Douglas's herculean efforts to make her. But then Ninotchka gradually begins to fall under the spell of Paris, its good food and fashionable hats, a pratfall involving Douglas is finally enough to make her laugh, and from that moment on, she's a delight. For an example of just how good a comedienne Garbo could be, watch Ninotchka's face as Douglas's character tells her corny joke after corny joke in an attempt to win a smile from her; or the scene set in a nightclub when Ninotchka discovers the capitalist wonders of champagne.
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