“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
110 minutes
Harvard Film Archive
Carpenter Center
24 Quincy St.
Cambridge, MA

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License(unless otherwise indicated) © 2019