Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Ninotchka (1939)

Yesterday was our first blog anniversary. Since last February 4th, I have reviewed 289 films.  Today's film is Ninotchka, which is a comedy/commentary on Communism/romance.  I like finding movies that I can quote, and there are a ton of quotable lines from this film.  This is almost like The Big Lebowski of the 1930's in how much I can quote in everyday situations.

Three men from Russia are in Paris to hawk confiscated (stolen) royal jewels for the sake of the government.  When the Countess Swana, rightful owner of the jewels finds out, she takes legal action, which leaves them stranded for the time being.  The Russian government sends an envoy to see what's up.  To everyone's surprise, it's woman; Ninotchka.  She is stern, make-up free, plain, and has absolutely no sense of humor.

By some magical coincidence, she meets Count Leon, Countess Swana's retainer, while she's out and about studying Paris.  He says, "Russians! I love Russians! I've been interested in your 5 year plan for the last 15 years."  I do like how she tries to compliment him.  She says, "Your general appearance is not distasteful", and also she likes his corneas, which is an odd thing to like.  Count Leon falls head over heels for her.  The next day he tries over and over to make her laugh.  When he stands up and promptly falls down, she is caught off guard and finally laughs.

After laughing,  Ninotchka transforms into something resembling a human being.  She tries on lipstick, buys the ugliest hat, and laughs at jokes now.  Unfortunately she is forced to go back to Russia.  What's worse, Count Leon is denied a visa to go see her.  How will he see Ninotchka again?  Don't worry, it's a romantic comedy, he'll figure it out.  I will give this movie an 8/10.


  1. The first half is really good. You are right, Garbo's lines are priceless and she is perfect as the hardline apperatnik. Unfortunately it falls a bit apart in the second half. Her transformation is too sudden and can only be explained by being a comedy device. Still I loved this one too.

    1. Yeah, nobody's personality changes that fast. But it still was funny.