Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Ninotchka (Lubitsch, 1939) A- [2nd viewing; 1st viewing grade: B-]

Didn't care for the cheesy transformation of dour plutocrat Ninotchka the first time around, back when I was 17 and dumb. As James Harvey points out, Ninotchka actually never transforms into a born-again capitalist, and in fact almost gets thrown out for trying to incite the powder room workers to unionize. But she's less closed-minded to the charms and wonders of the market, which is a start. Likewise glib Count Leon at least attempts to understand socialism -- it's really a romantic comedy about cross-cultural (or cross-political) understanding. But I still much prefer the first half, when Garbo does a hilarious caricature of the ultra-rational New Soviet Woman; I love when Garbo's eyebrows would perk up ever so slightly as she delivers those ridiculous Brackett/Wilder-penned one-liners ("The last mass trials were a great success; there are going to be fewer but better Russians.").