The Info List - Ninotchka

is a 1939 American film made for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
by producer and director Ernst Lubitsch
Ernst Lubitsch
and starring Greta Garbo
Greta Garbo
and Melvyn Douglas.[1] It is written by Billy Wilder, Charles Brackett, and Walter Reisch,[1] based on a screen story by Melchior Lengyel. Ninotchka
is Greta Garbo's first full comedy, and her penultimate film. It is one of the first American movies which, under the cover of a satirical, light romance, depicted the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
under Joseph Stalin as being rigid and gray, in this instance comparing it with the free and sunny Parisian society of pre-war years.


1 Plot 2 Cast 3 Release 4 Reception

4.1 Critical response 4.2 Revival 4.3 Legacy 4.4 Awards 4.5 Origins

5 References 6 External links


This article needs an improved plot summary. (December 2017)

Three Russians, Iranov (Sig Ruman), Buljanov (Felix Bressart), and Kopalsky (Alexander Granach), are in Paris to sell jewelry confiscated from the aristocracy during the Russian Revolution of 1917. Upon arrival, they meet Count Leon d'Algout (Melvyn Douglas), on a mission from the Russian Grand Duchess Swana (Ina Claire), who wants to retrieve her jewelry before it is sold. He corrupts them and talks them into staying in Paris. The Soviet Union
Soviet Union
then sends Nina Ivanovna "Ninotchka" Yakushova (Greta Garbo), a special envoy whose goals are to go through with the jewelry sale and bring back the three men. Rigid and stern at first, she slowly becomes seduced by the West and the Count, who falls in love with her. The three Russians also accommodate themselves to capitalism, but the last joke of the film is that one of them carries a sign protesting that the other two are unfair to him. Cast[edit]

Greta Garbo
Greta Garbo
as Nina Ivanovna "Ninotchka" Yakushova Melvyn Douglas
Melvyn Douglas
as Count Léon d'Algout Ina Claire
Ina Claire
as Grand Duchess Swana Sig Ruman
Sig Ruman
as Iranoff Felix Bressart
Felix Bressart
as Buljanoff Alexander Granach
Alexander Granach
as Kopalski Bela Lugosi
Bela Lugosi
as Commissar Razinin Rolfe Sedan
Rolfe Sedan
as Hotel Manager Gregory Gaye
Gregory Gaye
as Count Alexis Rakonin Edwin Maxwell as Mercier Richard Carle
Richard Carle
as Gaston Tamara Shayne
Tamara Shayne
as Anna (uncredited) George Tobias
George Tobias
as Russian visa official (uncredited) Charles Judels
Charles Judels
as café owner (uncredited) Edwin Stanley
Edwin Stanley
as Soviet
lawyer (uncredited)

Release[edit] Premiered in 1939 in the United States, the movie was released a month after the outbreak of World War II
World War II
in Europe, where it became a great success. It was, however, banned in the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
and its satellites. Despite that, it went on to make $2,279,000 worldwide. In a play on the famous "Garbo Talks!" ad campaign used for her "talkie" debut in Anna Christie (1930), Ninotchka
was marketed with the catchphrase "Garbo Laughs!", commenting on Garbo's serious and melancholy image and implying she had not laughed or played comedy before. However, her canon reveals this not to be the case. Although all her previous films were dramatic, Garbo had occasions to laugh in several of them. In Queen Christina (1933), she disguises herself as a man and jokes with her co-star John Gilbert and others throughout the first half of the picture. In Camille (1936), she feigns exuberant laughter in a dramatic scene with actor Henry Daniell. Reception[edit]

Greta Garbo
Greta Garbo
as Nina Ivanovna "Ninotchka" Yakushova and Melvyn Douglas as Count Léon d'Algout

Critical response[edit] When the film was first released, The New York Times
The New York Times
film critic Frank S. Nugent praised it:

The comedy, through Mr. Douglas's debonair performance and those of Ina Claire
Ina Claire
as the duchess and Sig Rumann, Felix Bressart
Felix Bressart
and Alexander Grannach as the unholy three emissaries; through Mr. Lubitsch's facile direction; and through the cleverly written script of Walter Reisch, Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder, has come off brilliantly. Stalin, we repeat, won't like it; but, unless your tastes hew too closely to the party line, we think you will, immensely.[2]

More recently, in 2008, film critic Dennis Schwartz discussed the humor of Ninotchka:

The sly political jokes include Garbo saying: "The last mass trials were a great success. There are going to be fewer but better Russians" and there are a few well-placed jokes mocking the failed Soviet Five-Year-Plan. The most noteworthy Lubitsch touch scene revolves around a stag feast in a luxury hotel ordered by capitalist Douglas for the three grateful comrade emissaries, who can't believe their good fortune. The film was funny in spots, but I thought it was also crude, lacked the usual Lubitsch subtleties, was not up to speed with the better earlier Lubitsch comedies and that the last half hour really slowed things down with an uninteresting artificial resolution.[3]

Revival[edit] An attempt to revive the film later during World War II
World War II
was suppressed on the grounds that the Soviets were then allies of the West.[4] Legacy[edit] In 1955, the musical Silk Stockings
Silk Stockings
opened on Broadway. Written by Cole Porter, the stage production was based on the 1939 story and script and starred Hildegard Neff
Hildegard Neff
and Don Ameche. The musical was then adapted by MGM as a 1957 film directed by Rouben Mamoulian
Rouben Mamoulian
and starring Fred Astaire
Fred Astaire
and Cyd Charisse. Actor George Tobias, who played the commissar in Silk Stockings, also appeared in an uncredited small role in Ninotchka
as the Russian official who gets punched by Leon for refusing him a visa. The MGM films Comrade X
Comrade X
(1940), starring Clark Gable
Clark Gable
and Hedy Lamarr, and The Iron Petticoat
The Iron Petticoat
(1956), starring Bob Hope
Bob Hope
and Katharine Hepburn, both borrow heavily from Ninotchka. In 1990, Ninotchka
was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry
National Film Registry
by the Library of Congress
Library of Congress
as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". In 2011, Time also included the film on the magazine's list of "All-Time 100 Movies".[5] Ninotchka
is recognized as well by the American Film Institute
American Film Institute
in the AFI 100 Years... series in the following lists:

1998: AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies – Nominated[6] 2000: AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs – #52[7] 2002: AFI's 100 Years...100 Passions – #40[8] 2005: AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes:

Leon: "Ninotchka, it's midnight. One half of Paris is making love to the other half." -– Nominated[9] Ninotchka: "Must you flirt?"

Leon: "Well, I don't have to, but I find it natural." Ninotchka: "Suppress it." – Nominated[10]

2007: AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies – Nominated[11]

Awards[edit] Ninotchka
received four Academy Award
Academy Award
nominations: Best Picture, Best Actress in a Leading Role, Best Original Story, and Best Screenplay.[12] Origins[edit] Ninotchka
is based on a three-sentence story idea by Melchior Lengyel that made its debut at a poolside conference in 1937, when a suitable comedy vehicle for Garbo was being sought by MGM: “Russian girl saturated with Bolshevist ideals goes to fearful, capitalistic, monopolistic Paris. She meets romance and has an uproarious good time. Capitalism not so bad, after all.”[13][14][15] References[edit]

^ a b "Ninotchka". Turner Classic Movies. Atlanta: Turner Broadcasting System (Time Warner). Retrieved August 19, 2016.  ^ Nugent, Frank S. The New York Times, film review, November 10, 1939. Last accessed: December 24, 2013. ^ Schwartz, Dennis. Ozus' World Movie Reviews, film review, February 20, 2008. Last accessed: December 24, 2013. ^ Lee Kennett, For the Duration. . . : The United States Goes To War p 164 ISBN 0-684-18239-4 ^ Corliss, Richard (2011). "All-Time 100 Movies", Time, October 3, 2011. Retrieved 2018-01-16. ^ " AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies (1998 edition)" (PDF). American Film Institute. Retrieved 2017-01-28.  ^ "America's Funniest Movies" (PDF). American Film Institute. Retrieved 2017-01-28.  ^ "AFI's 100 Greatest Love Stories of All Time". American Film Institute. Retrieved 2017-01-28.  ^ "AFI's List of Nominated Quotes" (PDF). American Film Institute. Retrieved 2017-01-28.  ^ "AFI's List of Nominated Quotes" (PDF). American Film Institute. Retrieved 2017-01-28.  ^ " AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies (2007 edition)" (PDF). American Film Institute. Retrieved 2017-01-28.  ^ The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. "The 12th Academy Awards, 1940", honoring the films of 1939. Awards presentation at Coconut Grove of the Ambassador Hotel, Los Angeles, California, February 29, 1940. Retrieved January 19, 2018. ^ Shaw, Tony (2007). Hollywood's Cold War, p. 16. Edinburgh University Press. ISBN 0748630732. ^ Zolotow, Maurice (1977). Billy Wilder
Billy Wilder
in Hollywood, p. 97. Hal Leonard Corporation. ISBN 0879100702. ^ Thomson, David (2012). The Big Screen: The Story of the Movies, p. 104. Macmillan. ISBN 0374191891.

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ninotchka

on IMDb Ninotchka
at Rotten Tomatoes Ninotchka
at AllMovie Ninotchka
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Films directed by Ernst Lubitsch

Feature films

Shoe Palace Pinkus
Shoe Palace Pinkus
(1916) When Four Do the Same (1917) Die Augen der Mumie Ma (1918) Carmen (1918) Intoxication (1919) The Doll (1919) My Wife, the Movie Star
My Wife, the Movie Star
(1919) The Oyster Princess
The Oyster Princess
(1919) Meyer from Berlin
Meyer from Berlin
(1919) Madame DuBarry (1919) Sumurun
(1920) Kohlhiesel's Daughters (1920) Anna Boleyn (1920) The Wild Cat (1921) The Loves of Pharaoh
The Loves of Pharaoh
(1922) The Flame (1923) Rosita (1923) The Marriage Circle
The Marriage Circle
(1924) Three Women (1924) Forbidden Paradise
Forbidden Paradise
(1924) Kiss Me Again (1925) Lady Windermere's Fan (1925) So This Is Paris (1926) The Honeymoon Express (1926) The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg
The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg
(1927) The Patriot (1928) Eternal Love (1929) The Love Parade
The Love Parade
(1929) Monte Carlo (1930) Paramount on Parade
Paramount on Parade
(co-director) (1930) The Smiling Lieutenant
The Smiling Lieutenant
(1931) Broken Lullaby
Broken Lullaby
(1932) One Hour with You
One Hour with You
(1932) Trouble in Paradise (1932) Design for Living (1933) The Merry Widow (1934) Angel (1937) Bluebeard's Eighth Wife
Bluebeard's Eighth Wife
(1938) Ninotchka
(1939) The Shop Around the Corner
The Shop Around the Corner
(1940) That Uncertain Feeling (1941) To Be or Not to Be (1942) Heaven Can Wait (1943) A Royal Scandal (1945) Cluny Brown
Cluny Brown
(1946) That Lady in Ermine
That Lady in Ermine

Short films

I Don't Want to Be a Man Kohlhiesels Töchter If I Had a Million
If I Had a Million
(segment "The Clerk")

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 316751731 GND: 7539307-4 SUDOC: 177314710 BNF: cb1466