Director: Ernst Lubitsch

U.S.A.| 1939. Black and white. 110 min.

Garbo laughs! So read the advertising for the star’s first outright comedy, and it brilliantly sums up the appeal of this remarkable film. Director Ernst Lubitsch has the actress gracefully step down from her pedestal as the stern Communist who warms to the appeal of Paris champagne and playboy Melvyn Douglas. Working from a brittle, witty script by no less than Wilder, Brackett, and Reisch, the gifted Lubitsch brings his patented ‘touch’ to scene after scene. From the bumbling emissaries’ arithmetic about ringing for hotel maids to Ninotchka’s hilarious ‘execution’ scene, the film bubbles merrily throughout. The lovely scene in a cafe where Douglas cracks Ninotchka up only when he falls off his chair remains a highlight of both film comedy and screen romance.

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