No. 36: Ninotchka
Falling out of love with the grand promise of Marxism
1939, dir. Ernst Lubitsch. Ninotchka isn’t a black so much as a bitter comedy: It could only have been made by people who had fallen out of love with the grand promise of Marxism, and, in 1939—the year Stalin signed his pact with Hitler—we know who those people were. Among its greatest joys is the devious glee with which three Russian aristocrats are made into bumbling stock characters straight from the Yiddish stage. Everybody remembers Lubitsch directed; few remember that Wilder co-wrote.