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Ninotchka (1939)

117 customer reviews

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(Sep 06, 2005)
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Editorial Reviews

Ninotchka (DVD)

Greta Garbo stars as the earnest commissar who proves to be almost immune to champagne, humor--and love--Ninotchka. 1939. When the Soviet government sends three dour diplomats to Paris to sell former Imperial jewels, the gems' former owner, Grand Duchess Swana (Ina Claire), asks her dapper boyfriend, Count Leon (Melvyn Douglas), to retrieve her property. With Leon's help, the three Soviets quickly succumb to the temptations of Capitalist decadence. To rescue the mission, the Soviets send their most incorruptible operative, Nina Ivanovna Yakushova (Greta Garbo). Now as Count Leon strives to soften the beautiful but seemingly cold-hearted commissar, he's the first to lose his heart--by falling in love with Ninotchka--in this classic romantic comedy.


Special Features

  • Theatrical trailer

Product Details

  • Actors: Greta Garbo, Melvyn Douglas, Ina Claire, Bela Lugosi, Sigfried Rumann
  • Directors: Ernst Lubitsch
  • Producers: Ernst Lubitsch
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Closed-captioned, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: September 6, 2005
  • Run Time: 110 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (117 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0009S4IJW
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #39,918 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Ninotchka (1939)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

82 of 87 people found the following review helpful By El Kabong on August 25, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
An expertly-played and presented comedy that continues to be dogged by detractors for the oddest reasons. Some feel NINOTCHKA suffers compared to Lubitsch's earlier work, finding it formulaic alongside 1933's TROUBLE IN PARADISE. (I hadn't known Lubitsch had been given 'do-what-thou-wilt' privileges from the Hays Office - I'd labored under the delusion he faced the same restrictions in content and tone every other moviemaker did in 1939.) Other nay-sayers decry the film's jabs at Soviet collectivism as 'dated' if not 'unenlightened'. (Huh? You mean show trials and forced starvation of kulaks were GOOD things that a truly witty screenplay would celebrate?) Still other kibitzers squawk over the casting, of all things! (While it IS fun to picture William Powell or Robert Montgomery in the role of Leon, the boulevardier, Melvyn Douglas was never better than he is here. If he has his spotty moments, it's in those scenes where he must swoon with ardor, reciting dialogue that rings a tad purple to the ear; it's quite possible Powell or Montgomery would have fared even worse reading those lines.) Okay, enough defensive posturing - now let's go to NINOTCHKA's numerous strengths. Garbo is magnificent; she has a real knack for comedy (her deadpan entrance is hilarious) yet, as always, is able to break your heart with a look, a word, a gesture. Her three 'stooges' (Sig Rumann, Alexander Granach & Felix Bressart) are broadly funny and genuinely endearing. Ina Claire is everything her legend always claimed she was - though her character is icily calculating, you can't hate any woman who can make dialogue bristle like this. Lubitsch is in complete command throughout; his staging and pacing of the proceedings masterful in its seeming effortlessness.Read more ›
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Matthew on December 2, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
I saw this movie one rainy night at the Clatsop Community College campus in Astoria, Oregon. I've been in love with this movie ever since. Every successful romantic comedy made since this film was released in 1939 owes part of their success to it. Greta Garbo takes a break from her serious filmmaking career and plays a strong, yet reasonable Russian woman. Melvyn Douglas is perfect in his role as well. The consumate playboy, he sees Garbo on the streets of Paris and must have her. It's not that easy though. Ninotchka isn't in Paris for romance.
Combining these two characters with the surrounding cast, it's easily one of the best comedies ever made. The writing is intelligent, and everything about this film has stood the test of time.
I have this film on laserdisc, and am wondering what's the hold up on the DVD. I'm guessing it must be Garbo's estate. Hopefully there'll be some exciting extras on the title when it's finally released. (Like the great extras on the "Rebecca" laserdisc box set & dvd set from Criterion.)
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By DJ Joe Sixpack HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on May 4, 2004
Format: VHS Tape
Yet another yummy Ernst Lubitsch comedy, this time starring the often-dour Greta Garbo as a humorless Soviet agent who is seduced by Western materialism (and a dashing, jovial Melvyn Douglas) while on a mission in Paris. Some may find the film's political aspects to be dated -- but hey, that's totally the point! Lubitsch manages to lampoon both Stalin-era communism and the American stereotypes of the French (as libertine sensualists) all at one time... And while the Soviet state is roundly mocked, the plight of its people is not, so that Garbo's character is given her dignity and honor... as well as some swell close-ups and nice clothes! The best part of this film is her transformation from a robotic, literal-minded Party functionary into a fully-rounded human being... The scene in which Douglas tries to crack Ninotchka's icy facade, telling jokes and acting up in order to provoke a laugh or a smile, while she rebuffs his every overture in a clipped, chilly monotone, is one of Garbo's best performances, and a brilliant comedic stroke for Lubitsch. In effect, the manic, wisecracking Douglas is turned into a straight man for Garbo, whose minimalistic delivery controls the scene, in an almost Steven Wright-like manner. And, of course, the rest of the film is a delight as well. A fascinating, frivolous look at prewar European politics, and a real humdinger of a screwball comedy, with a clever, snappy script co-written by Billy Wilder. What's not to enjoy, comrade?
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Stephen H. Wood on October 9, 2005
Format: DVD
Fans of the great Greta Garbo argue over whether QUEEN CHRISTINA (1933) or CAMILLE (1936) has her finest performance. It is a tough call. How about a dead-heat tie and owning both film masterpieces on DVD? But no one considers what her most ENJOYABLE performance is, the film she seemed to have the most fun making. That would surely be Ernst Lubitsch's wonderful NINOTCHKA (1939, MGM). She gets to play two different roles, one serious drama and one lighthearted comedy under master Lubitsch's perfect touch. And she gets to say dialogue by masters Billy Wilder, Charles Brackett, and Walter Reisch. I'd quote dialogue, but every line is just hilarious perfection.

We are mostly in Paris in 1939 as we meet three nutty Russian visitors (Felix Bressart, Alexander Granach, and Sig Rumann) checking into a fancy hotel, saying that is what Lenin would do. It doesn't seem to matter to the writers or Lubitsch why they are in Paris, only that it is some sort of secret mission that is moving too slowly and seems to involve stolen diamonds. The city holds too much glittering romance and wealth for the poor Russians to get their work done. Lubitsch has his trademark fascination with doors. We keep focusing on them closed and squeals inside. Watch the cigarette girl get great laughs behind a closed door, then bring two of her friends back with more trays and boxes! Just when you think the gag can't be topped, Lubitsch and his writers have Garbo's Ninotchka ask for a cigarette and three girls enter the suite. Ninotchka says, "Comrades, you must have been smoking a lot."

Ninotchka has been sent to Paris to find out why the mission is taking so long. The three Russians meet her at the train station, and she spends the next several reels in a cold and humorless vein, all business.
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