Ernst Lubitsch’s Ninotchka

Classic Film Night

Three bumbling Soviet officials are in Paris to sell jewels confiscated from a Russian aristocrat. Under the influence of Duke Leon d’Algout (Melvyn Douglas) who wants to stop the sale and and retrieve the jewels for his Russian Grand Duchess friend, they corrupted by the decadent Parisian lifestyle.

Greta Garbo stars as Comrade Nina Ivanovna Yakushova (“Ninotchka”) who is sent in to clean up their mess. Stem and humourless at first, she begins to find herself falling in love with Duke Leon, a man who represents everything she is supposed to detest.

Intended to lend Garbo the human touch in an attempt to revive her box office numbers, Ninotchka was her first full comedy and one of the tag lines used to promote it was “Garbo laughs!”.

The film premiered just a month after the outbreak of World War II in Europe. It was a great success in both the US and abroad, however it was banned in the Soviet Union and its satellites because of its satire.


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