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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Ninotchka (1939)

The Ernst Lubitsch film semester continues.  The movie has some heavy hitters--besides Lubitsch as director, Billy Wilder wrote it (apparently he was a writer before he was a director), and Greta Garbo stars.

This is Garbo's second to last film and the movie has been billed by the moniker "Garbo laughs!".  I don't know enough about her work to be able to comment on whether that is a rarity or not, but it is entirely accurate.  Right about mid-film her love interest makes a huge effort to get her to laugh, and he is wildly, though unexpectedly, successful.  It is noteworthy because Garbo plays a Russian envoy who is sent to Paris to help save failing negotiations to sell the opulent jewelry confiscated from Russian royalty.  She enters the scene as an impossibly smart, no-nonsense woman with no sense of humor.  She meets a man who turns out to be her nemesis in mucking up the gears of her mission, but who none-the-less captures her heart.  So the capitalist melts the heart of a die-hard communist, a message which surely had some appeal to Americans. 

This was definitely not amongst my favorite Lubitsch films, but it is a well known one, and without flaws other than that I like other of his films more.

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