“Now do not misunderstand me. I do not hold your frivolity against you. As basic material you may not be bad. But you are the unfortunate product of a doomed culture.I feel very sorry for you.”
Comrades, if you and your anti-capitalist convictions are rock-ribbed enough to stand a little, well, ribbing, you really ought to treat yourself to the HFA’s screening tonight of Ninotchka, Ernst Lubitsch’s sparkling tribute to pre-war Paris, a city he celebrates not only for its own sake, but as a stand-in for free markets, free thinking, and free love.
Perhaps the highest praise I can offer Ninotchka is that its wit, its charm, and its GRETA GARBO more than make up for what might otherwise have been its — and especially its male lead, Melvyn Douglas’ — insufferable smugness. When a sort of Soviet Three Stooges, seeking to sell a Russian Countess’ confiscated jewels to fund Stalin’s regime, is outsmarted by the Count (Douglas), the Politburo dispatches Ninotchka (Garbo) — a beautiful, robotic, humorless champion of international Communism — to set things straight. Alas, Paris and Douglas work a number on her. It all amounts to a great pity for the revolution, but to a first-class bon-bon for the frivolity-susceptible viewer.
Ninotchka (1939) Dir. Ernst Lubitsch
Sat 6/17, 7pm
Harvard Film Archive
24 Quincy St.