September 22, 2005


Last night I watched a Greta Garbo movie for the first time - Ernst Lubitsch's Ninotchka. This 1939 movie (the list of widely admired "classics" from 1939 is perhaps longer than that of any other year and includes films like The Wizard of Oz, The Rules of the Game, The Women, Gone With the Wind, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, and Stagecoach among others) was marketed as Garbo's first comedy - and the it indeed largely succeeds at both being a romantic comedy (according to the rules of the genre at the time) and a political farce. Garbo delivers some great, cutting lines dealing with the latter point - for example, her deadpan on the outcome of the latest purges, "there will be fewer but better Russians", and on the scandal of her having bought undergarments in France, "I should hate to see our country endangered by my underwear". Personally, since much of the supposedly romantic dialogues seemed rather dated (though not, I should note, the mean, catty exchanges between the two female characters who are both in love with the same man) I think the film holds up best as a political comedy in which both the Stalinists and the idle rich come off poorly (though the Soviets are hit much harder). I didn't like it as much as some of the Marx Brothers films of the same era. But even if I didn't find it to be especially compelling, if you are interested in watching a silly bit of well-constructed film comedy from the late 1930's this isn't bad.

Posted by armand at September 22, 2005 11:01 AM | TrackBack | Posted to Movies

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