September 6, 2005
Warner Home Video
- Closed Captioned
- Runtime: 110 minutes
- NTSC (Canada and USA)
- Originally in English
- Released in English
Ninotchka is a stern, straightlaced Communist Party member sent to Paris to finish the sale of Grand Duchess Swana's jewels for the Soviet government. But, while studying the frivolous materialism of Paris, Ninotchka meets Leon, Swana's lawyer and sometime lover, and the two become enamored with one another -- without knowing each other's identity. The Grand Duchess, in the meantime, is suing the USSR for ownership of the jewels. What follows is a delicate web of intrigue and deception as Swana tries to blackmail Ninotchka into leaving Paris. Soon the two lovers have to overcome political hurdles and cross borders just to be together.
In one of the most famous roles of her career, Garbo plays a grim Soviet offical who travels to Paris on government business, but eventually succumbs to the city's romance. Melvyn Douglas is the Frenchman who warms her icy heart. Academy Award Nominations: 4, including Best Picture, Best Actress--Greta Garbo, Best Original story.
"Ninotchka," which premiered in Hollywood on October 6, 1939, was the first film produced for MGM by Ernst Lubitsch.
The picture was advertised as the film where "Garbo Laughs!", recalling the "Garbo Talks!" campaign of "Anna Christie". But, according to a 1980 Hollywood Reporter item, Garbo's laugh had to be dubbed in, as she "couldn't summon up more than a somber chuckle." Ernst Lubitsch was quoted as saying that Garbo was the "most inhibited person [he had] ever worked with." He claimed that she was highly embarrassed to act drunk in a restaurant filled with extras.
A New York Times article claims that MGM changed the setting of the film from Moscow to Paris, in order to avoid showing any depiction of living conditions in Russia, whether they be "pleasant or deplorable."
Cary Grant was MGM's first choice for male lead, and William Powell was a consideration as late as a week before production. But the cameras started rolling without a leading man. Melvyn Douglas was finally cast as Count Leon d'Algout.
"Ninotchka" created an uproar in the Soviet Union. As late as the 1950s Soviet authorities were threatening a Vienna theatre to force it to stop running the film.
A misunderstanding occurred when a letter was sent from the Soviets to Italian government officials in Rome demanding that "Ninotchka" be pulled from Italian theatres. The office was without a translator at the time, and mistook the note for correspondence regarding the Soviet proposal for major political negotiations.