Ninotchka (1939)



Critic Consensus: With Greta Garbo proving her comedy chops in the twilight of her career, Ninotchka is a can't-miss classic.

Movie Info

"Garbo Laughs!" declared the ads for Ninotchka. In the face of dwindling foreign revenues, MGM decided to put Greta Garbo, a bigger draw in Europe than the US, in a box-office-savvy comedy, engaging the services of master farceur Ernst Lubitsch to direct. The film opens in Paris during the aftermath of the Russian revolution. A trio of Russian delegates (Sig Rumann, Felix Bressart, and Alexander Granach) are sent to Paris to sell the Imperial Jewels for ready cash. Grand Duchess Swana (Ina … More

Rating: R
Genre: Drama, Romance, Classics, Comedy
Directed By:
Written By: Charles Brackett, Billy Wilder, Walter Reisch, Melchior Lengyel
In Theaters:
On DVD: Sep 5, 2005
Warner Bros. Pictures


as Nina Ivanovna 'Ninot...

as Count Leon d'Algout

as Commissar Razinin

as Grand Duchess Swana

as Michael Ironoff

as Buljanoff

as Count Alexis Rakonin

as Vaston

as Mercier

as Hotel Manager

as Russian Visa Officia...

as Jacqueline

as Streetcar Conductres...

as Gen. Savitsky

as Pere Mathieu

as Lawyer

as Lawyer

as French Maid

as Lady Lavenham

as Porter

as Taxi Driver

as Bartender

as Gossip

as Indignant Woman

as Vladimir

as Neighbor/Spy

as Streetcar Conductres...

as Cigarette Girl

as Cigarette Girl

as German Woman at Rail...
Show More Cast

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Critic Reviews for Ninotchka

All Critics (31) | Top Critics (6)

This one is neither crude clowning nor crude prejudice, but a literate and knowingly directed satire which lands many a shrewd crack about phony Five Year Plans, collective farms, Communist jargon and pseudo-scientific gab.

Full Review… | January 15, 2013
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

Ninotchka is delicate flirtation and political satire made into a perfect whole, and a reminder of skills that studio writers have largely lost.

Full Review… | December 27, 2012
Time Out
Top Critic

Selection of Ernst Lubitsch to pilot Garbo in her first light performance in pictures proves a bull's-eye.

Full Review… | February 3, 2009
Top Critic

The satire may be mostly a matter of easy contrasts, but the lovers inhabit a world of elegance and poise that is uniquely and movingly Lubitsch's.

Full Review… | February 3, 2009
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

It's still consistently amusing, and Garbo throws herself into the fray with engaging vigour.

Full Review… | January 26, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

One of the sprightliest comedies of the year.

Full Review… | May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Ninotchka


The sale of an exiled countess's diamonds brings a Soviet investigator to Paris where she falls her rival.
Garbo laughs! Greta Garbo delivers a phenomenal performance as the eponymous character in this romantic satire/farce. Garbo's cyborg character softens about forty-five minutes into the film, and from then on she becomes old cinema's definition of charming, charismatic female lead. Melvyn Douglas is a fine leading man, and the three Russian stooges provide good comic relief.
The film is typical Cold War-era fare -- maybe a little more complex as Leon actually reads Das Kapital, but that only sets up the butler's capitalistic retort to Communist ideology. But the film's strength is that it stays focused on the human relationship and the change in the character rather than on the what Ninotchka's conversion means as a political statement.
Overall, this is a charming film that keeps its political message in the background.

Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer


This predictable romantic comedy disguises itself as a story about relations between Russia and France, but that story takes a back seat to the romance in the end. I found this movie contrived and boring. I liked the more comedic remake, Silk Stockings (1957), better than the original.

Aj V

Super Reviewer


Greta Garbo stars in the title role in this pre-cold war look at the Soviet Union. When three emissaries come to Paris to sell the royal jewelry confiscated during the revolution, Leon (Melvyn Douglas), representing the Duchess, attempts to reclaim the jewels in her name. The no-nonsense Ninotchka, a high-ranking official, is sent to straighten out the mess and get money for the jewels which her country so desperately needs. But things go awry when she meets Leon by accident (the two don't know each other yet) while sight-seeing, and they fall in love at first sight. Ninotchka has two distinct parts to it: one is a conventional love story, the other is probably the most unique portrayal of Soviet-western relations in the history of cinema. It's one of the rare instances of the Soviet Union (Stalin's Soviet Union, no less) not being villainized but rather viewed from a realistic, humanist point of view. Don't get me wrong, it's not glorified either, the Soviet Union is portrayed as a desperate, secretive place, but it's the people are good and noble. The aristocracy is the real villain in the film, being petty and bourgeois and treating those not of noble birth as inferior. On the other hand, the other part is a fairly low caliber love story that in modern times would star Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds. There's something very "Miss Congeniality" about the whole thing. The idea that this film is billed as a comedy is also highly questionable, as there's nothing all that funny to be found in it. Melvyn Douglas is a cardboard character who's role could've been filled by virtually any other actor of his day and it would've had nil effect on the film. Garbo's performance however, was quite good in what would be one of her last roles. All in all, a mixed bag of a film.

Mr Awesome
Devon Bott

Super Reviewer

Ninotchka Quotes

– Submitted by Christopher B (2 years ago)
– Submitted by Christopher B (2 years ago)
– Submitted by Christopher B (2 years ago)
– Submitted by Christopher B (2 years ago)

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