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 ...
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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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
After this film, Fred Astaire effectively retired from musicals, preferring to concentrate on non-musical roles, though he would produce several musical specials for TV in the next few years. Astaire wouldn't make another musical until 1968 (Finian's Rainbow (1968)). See more »
When she's typing on the typewriter in the hotel room, Nina presses only the same two keys. See more »
"Silk should be used for parachutes " but as Ninotchka learns NOT so in Paris
Comparisons between this and the 1939 film "Ninotchka" are inevitable, but both films are entirely different genres and need to be evaluated on their own merits or lack thereof. The 1939, Garbo-Douglas "Ninotchka" can be defined as a comedy/drama; the 1957, Astaire- Charisse "Silk Stockings" as a comedy/musical.
Also to those who find fault with the script as an unauthentic representation of Soviet citizenry circa the Cold War era well "Silk Stockings" is not meant to be a polemic on Communism, soviet style. It takes elements from Soviet life, exaggerates, and subverts the realities for comedic effect. We're talking comedy here, not documentary.
Fred Astaire, as Hollywood producer Steve Canfield, here is an older Fred than we are used to seeing and although given star billing, the film is more of an ensemble effort. Cyd Charisse, as Ninotchhka, is tasked with playing a prudish, repressed, literal minded Soviet official. Ninotchhka, a personality manufactured by political propaganda is more of a one- dimensional caricature, a role that doesn't require great acting skill and Charisse manages her role with facility.
Together Astaire and Charisse make a good dance team but the choreography is lackluster and pedestrian. Astaire at age 58 still demonstrates vitality but he's taking it easy here nothing physically innovative or too rigorous. There's no Fred wow factor that would serve to add another jewel to the King of Dance's crown.
Peter Lorre, one of a trio of Soviet commissars come to Paris to waylay a Russian composer's defection to Hollywood, diverges from his familiar portrayals. Formerly inseparable from characterizations of the sinister, sly insinuator here he's an engaging, chubby comrade/sidekick.
Janis Paige was a ubiquitous, popular name in entertainment in the 1950s. She's the crass exhibitionist, Peggy Dayton, a concoction epitomizing the Hollywood star factory; she's a proxy for the over the top, gaudy commercialism of the Capitalist System. Her movie star is a manufactured product famous for showcasing her talents in the type of movie called water spectaculars, most commonly confined to swimming pools or sound stage sets mimicking exotic, fanciful lagoons. A not very flattering homage to Esther Williams...maybe?
In "Silk Stockings" Cole Porter has given us song lyrics that seem forced, applied with a heavy- handed manipulation agonized over. The tunes are not memorable. Overall, there's a turgid gimmickry at work here, lacking the easy, almost effortless, sophisticated grace of his best work. This musical score is not representative of the best compositions in Porter's catalogue of memorable work.
The most glaring bungling occurs in the cinematography and lightening. The camera work throughout is woefully uninspired, filmed predominately using medium shots, every scene is framed in a relentless monotony lacking visual variety. The unimaginative lightening only emphasizes the camera's deficiency further bathing everything in a uniform bright light, without nuance, shadow or mood. The result presents everything as if a flat page in a picture book. These "lazy" production values extend to the costumes and set décor as well where Technicolor is not used to advantage. The entire movie has a flat dullness, and drabness to it all. It might as well have been filmed in black and white.
After finishing "Silk Stockings," Astaire didn't make another movie musical for ten years. After viewing the finished product, it's no mystery why he made that decision.
All this being said this is not the worst musical ever made, and can offer some entertainment value. Just sit back and enjoy the effortless charm and courtliness of Fred Astaire and the gorgeous Cyd Charise. What woman wouldn't want her figure and those beautiful, sculpted long legs?!
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