Sunday, 9 August 2015
AUGUST 9, 2015
NINOTCHKA (1939) Directed by Ernst Lubitsch ***
I start my second review in a row with a confession. I have never been won over by the charm of the films of Ernst Lubitsch. I'm sure that the fault is entirely mine but I suppose we all have blind spots.
On the other hand, like many others, I adore Greta Garbo, although I came to her films only a few years ago when a friend passed on an unwanted present to me - a box set of her famous films. I loved QUEEN CHRISTINA, MATA HARI, ANNA KARENINA and ANNA CHRISTIE - only NINOTCHKA was missing. It has wonderful performances to be sure (even a brief one scene appearance by Bela Lugosi as a Russian Kommisar!) but except for the famous "Garbo laughs" scene (illustrated above) I remained unmoved and even a little impatient for it to end - perhaps I stuck with it to see Lugosi whose scene comes near the end of the film. I'm sure it is the masterpiece so many claim it to be. The plot about a female Russian official who is slowly "humanised" by Western culture and the love of a man has been used many times since in a musical remake (SILK STOCKINGS) with Cyd Charrise and Fred Astaire and a rather less successful film starring Bob Hope and Kartharine Hepburn and a disastrous one starring John Wayne and Janet Leigh.