NINOTCHKA (1939)

Dir. Ernst Lubitsch

When MGM decided to showcase its most sophisticated star in her first comedy, there was only one director who fit the bill. Under Ernst Lubitsch's guidance, Garbo laughs, cries, acts up a storm and ends up looking fabulous in her Adrian wardrobe. The studio had been developing the story for years and wrote the film's advertising line, "Garbo laughs," before they even had a plot. When Lubitsch agreed to direct and produce, he threw out earlier screenplays and imported two writers from his former studio, Paramount. Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett brought a deft satirical touch to the story of a female Soviet official whose icy demeanor thaws in the face of exiled aristocrat Melvyn Douglas' sunny disposition and the romantic beauties of Paris. Though Lubitsch was happy with the film and loved working with Garbo, he would later report "she is the most inhibited actress I have ever worked with."  She was ashamed to act drunk in front of the case for one important scene, and it was her custom to have the set closed as she worked.

In attendance: Nicola Lubitsch.

NINOTCHKA
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