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Ninotchka (1939)

Not Rated | | Comedy, Romance | 23 November 1939 (USA)
2:17 | Trailer

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A stern Russian woman sent to Paris on official business finds herself attracted to a man who represents everything she is supposed to detest.



(screen play), (screen play) | 2 more credits »
Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 3 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »



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Complete credited cast:
... Nina Ivanovna Yakushova aka Ninotchka
... Count Leon d'Algout
... Grand Duchess Swana
... Commissar Razinin
... Comrade Iranoff (as Sig Rumann)
... Comrade Buljanoff
... Comrade Kopalski
... Count Alexis Rakonin
Rolfe Sedan ... Hotel Manager
... Mercier
... Gaston


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 <daleoc@interaccess.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Garbo Laughs See more »


Comedy | Romance


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

23 November 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Ninotschka  »


Box Office


$1,365,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider. See more »


After arriving at the suite, and Ninotchka begins typing, the position of the trio and the manner in which they hold their hats change. See more »


Ninotchka: What's that?
Comrade Kopalski: It's a hat, Comrade. A woman's hat.
Ninotchka: How can such a civilization survive which permits their women to put things like that on their heads. It won't be long now, Comrades.
See more »


Referenced in Hollywood Out-takes and Rare Footage (1983) See more »


Music by Pierre Degeyter
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User Reviews

A Lovable Garbo, the Lubitsch Touch and Scintillating Wit from Wilder and His Cronies
9 May 2006 | by See all my reviews

While it's a given that Greta Garbo was the most enigmatic of film stars during Hollywood's golden age, it's also fair to state that she may be the least relevant today for her austere beauty and cool, sometimes unapproachable demeanor. Yet, all that is erased with this 1939 comedy masterwork which brilliantly teams her with the master of innuendo-filled scintillation, Ernst Lubitsch. With a laser-sharp, witty script by Walter Reisch, Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder (before he became a master director himself), this classic is one part political comedy, one part screwball farce and one part romantic whimsy, all blended impeccably with the famous Lubitsch touch.

The plot involves Nina Ivanovna Yakushova, a Soviet envoy sent to Paris to ensure that the government receives the proceeds from the sale of jewels once owned and still coveted by the Grand Duchess Swana, now an expatriate. The cold, emotionless envoy goes about superseding the three lesser envoys who have been assimilating themselves into the frivolous, capitalistic world of Paris thanks to Count Leon, a tuxedoed dandy and the duchess's constant escort. It is Leon who dubs the envoy Ninotchka, and after initial resistance, the two find themselves falling in love but not at the expense of her convictions about the omnipotence of Communist values. The jewels become a negotiation ploy that complicates their affair as does the Grand Duchess herself. The plot develops in unexpected ways and through such clever observational humor that the ending comes all too soon.

While she is deified by many for the operatic tragedy of "Camille" and the mannered mystique of "Mata Hari", Garbo seems at first to be a parody of her sullen screen image with witty one-liners delivered in hilarious deadpan, but she, like her character, blossoms into a warm, comically romantic presence as the film progresses. It's a wondrous transformation and the one performance that assures Garbo her lasting stature more than any other. As Leon, Melvyn Douglas specialized in William Powell-knockoff roles like this one and while he does get a bit excessive in his 1930's-style romantic gestures, he is sophisticated and genial enough to have us believe Ninotchka may give up Mother Russia for him.

At first, stage legend Ina Claire seems like she will play the Grand Duchess Swana as a dotty ninny, but when her talons show, she is an excellent match for Garbo in their scenes together. As the trio of envoys ensconced in the good life, Sig Ruman, Felix Bressart and Alexander Granach make a merry chorus to the proceedings. I particularly like the scenes back in Russia when they share an omelet dinner with Ninotchka in her Soviet-sanctioned, multiple-occupant room. The print transfer on the 2005 DVD is pristine and brings out William Daniels' sparkling, black-and-white cinematography, though the only extra is the film's original trailer. This is truly a must-see.

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