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Ah, those fun-loving Communists! In Ninotchka three Soviets make their way to Paris to sell off imperial jewels to raise money to buy tractors for the USSR. When Grand Duchess Swana (Ina Claire), former owner of the jewels, discovers what's happening, she deploys her lover Leon (Melvyn Douglas) to recover her gems. He starts a court proceeding while seducing the three bumbling Soviets with the luxuries of capitalistic life. The delay of the sale is noticed in Moscow, and Comrade Ninotchka (Greta Garbo) is dispatched to Paris to settle the matter. Soon after arrival, she meets Leon, who is charmed by her severe, uptight manner and her stunning beauty ("I love Russians! Comrade, I've been fascinated by your five-year plan for the last 15 years"), and he sets about wooing her, despite her disbelief in love (it's merely a "chemical reaction," she dourly informs him). Romance, jealousy, and capitalistic frivolity ensue.
When this film was released in 1939, it was advertised as "Garbo laughs," as it was her first and only comedy. The film, directed by Ernst Lubitsch, is amusing not only for its story line, but also for its dated look at early Communism (Ninotchka keeps a photo of a stern-looking Lenin by her bedside, although she feels uncomfortable doing so in a room that costs 2,000 francs a night, the price of a cow back home). The satirical image of the young Communist fighting against corrupt Western ways seems somewhat idealistic today but nonetheless provided levity during the shaky political times of the film's release. Viewers may be jarred by the casual "Heil Hitler" greeting of a couple at the train station, but overall this film holds up as one of Lubitsch's masterpieces and a lighter glimpse of the mysterious Garbo. --Jenny Brown --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
This is a delightful movie with a clever plot and terrific dialogue. They truly don't make movies like this anymore. Read morePublished on April 20 2003
To see someone like Garbo choosing to be fun, instead of beautiful, is a real treat. This won't spoil anything: viewers will fall out when Garbo, all dowdy and Soviet-like, goes... Read morePublished on Oct. 2 2002 by W. Steve White
Had he not also plumbed the Third Reich for laughs, in To Be or Not to Be, one would be inclined to say that Ernst Lubitsch's take on the
USSR is too light-hearted here. Read more
I saw this movie one rainy night at the Clatsop Community College campus in Astoria, Oregon. I've been in love with this movie ever since. Read morePublished on Dec 2 2001 by Matthew
An expertly-played and presented comedy that continues to be dogged by detractors for the oddest reasons. Read morePublished on Aug. 25 2001 by El Kabong
Ernst Lubitsch has made many wonderful films such as "To Be Or Not To Be", and "The Shop Around The Corner", and while I perfer those two over this one, this... Read morePublished on March 13 2001 by Alex Udvary