Lubitsch - 14 November 2013 - NINOTCHKA - Quotes

USA 1939
Directed by Ernst Lubitsch
Running time: 110 minutes

"Garbo brings her incredible sensual abandon to the role of a glum, scientifically trained Bolshevik envoy who succumbs to Parisian freedom - i.e., champagne. The film includes a historic encounter, when the great instinctual artist of the screen meets the great stylist and technician of the stage — Ina Claire, as a Russian grand duchess. The fur flies exquisitely."

– Pauline Kael

“Of course, no one doubts that Garbo is going to melt, but the lovely thing about the film is the way chat and smiles do the trick. She doesn’t have to be convinced by some ponderous arguments over political destiny. Flirtation does it – the most egalitarian weapon”

– David Thomson

“A sparkling, witty political fairy tale from 1939, about a cold but beautiful lady commissar (Greta Garbo) who melts to the bourgeois charms of Paris and Melvyn Douglas, jeopardizing both honor and career. That’s love. Garbo fully complements the casual sophistication and stylistic grace of director Ernst Lubitsch, cleverly playing off her dour public image. The satire may be mostly a matter of easy contrasts, but the lovers inhabit a world of elegance and poise that is uniquely and movingly Lubitsch’s.”

– Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader

“In 1939, the New York Times declared, “Stalin won’t like it!” This sentiment marked Ernst Lubitsch’s classic comedy, NINOTCHKA, as a send up of Soviet-communist life. And it would later bolster Louis B. Mayer’s case before the House Un-American Activities Committee. His plea was that, yes, MGM has made films like NINOTCHKA that, “kidded the life out of communism.” The film stars Greta Garbo, “The Solitary Swede,” who became so yoked to her character’s line in the 1932 film GRAND HOTEL (Goulding): “I want to be alone.” Two years earlier, when her film ANNA CHRISTIE (Brown, 1930) was being publicized, MGM wanted audiences to know that the silent film starlet’s first talkie was a big deal. So they spread the slogan, “Garbo talks!” Nine years later, in NINOTCHKA, it was “Garbo laughs!” And no advertising campaign would let you forget it. The deserving director chosen to crack Garbo’s grimace was Ernst Lubitsch. His farcical fingerprint on the fabric of film history had already become known as “The Lubitsch Touch.” Billy Wilder’s script delivers Garbo from the dour life of a Soviet emissary and into the warm embrace of Western materialism. Contemporary audiences should have no trouble seeing the satire on both sides of the iron curtain.”

– Kurtiss Hare