Ninotchka (Guest Speaker)

December 3

Garbo stars in a comedy romance, yes, this is the film where she laughs for the first time on screen. Gone is any trace of the tragic actor as Garbo plays a serious Russian sent to Paris on official business. Inculcated with loathing for Western values, she meets a roué out to charm her, played by Mervyn Douglas. What could possibly go wrong? For the more serious-minded the political satire warns of things to come in Soviet-US relations. With Lubitsch, known for sophisticated comedies of manners (Design for Living, Trouble in Paradise), and Billy Wilder (Some Like It Hot, Sunset Boulevard) involved in script-writing, the film has become a renowned classic. We welcome back Nick Smedley, who knows all about this period of Hollywood film-making, for Q&A.

‘Stalin won’t like it. Molotoff may even recall his envoy from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. We still will say Garbo’s “Ninotchka” is one of the sprightliest comedies of the year, … gay and impertinent.’

Frank S Nugent, 1939 review, New York Times. And more recently:

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

Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out

Nominated for 4 Oscars, 3 major wins.

97% critics and 89% audience Rotten Tomatoes ratings, 8.0 IMDb score.


Greta Garbo, Melvyn Douglas, Ina Claire

Film Information

Title Ninotchka (Guest Speaker)
Directed by Ernst Lubitsch
Country USA
Classification U
Running Time 110 mins
Release Year 1939
Subtitles No
Colour No (B&W)
Film Notes Download