Ninotchka

1939, USA, Language: English, Russian, Subtitles: Hungarian (110’); Screening: 09.06, 13.00, Toldi Cinema, Kisterem

Right in the very first scene, when the Muscovite hard-line communists step out of the revolving door and gaze around at the luxury hotel, there is a certain Central European charm apparent. The film’s humour is particularly familiar to us Hungarians: typical Budapest humour mixed with the story of the awakening self-awareness of the woman-commissar keeping a close eye on the three delegates binging in the luxury hotel. Initially, such a frigidity radiates from Greta Garbo playing the commissar – as she says: I am only interested in the shortest distance between two points – that it chills to the bone. At the beginning of the film one can read the name Melchior Lengyel: at first sight the name might conjure up the image of a magician, but it actually refers to the comedy magician born Menyhért Lengyel in Balmazújváros, Hungary, and author of The Miraculous Mandarin – who was assisted by none other than Billy Wilder in compiling the screenplay.

Directed by: Ernst Lubitsch
Written by: Melchior Lengyel
Screenplay by: Charles Brackett, Billy Wilder, Walter Reisch
Director of photography: William H. Daniels
Music by: Werner R. Heymann
Cast: Greta Garbo, Melvyn Douglas, Ina Claire, Bela Lugosi, Sig Ruman, Felix Bressart
Genre: comedy
Production: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Format: black and white, 1.37:1

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