In Paris, the estranged wife of a wealthy banker hides a fiery communist fugitive in her apartment.In Paris, the estranged wife of a wealthy banker hides a fiery communist fugitive in her apartment.In Paris, the estranged wife of a wealthy banker hides a fiery communist fugitive in her apartment.In Paris, the estranged wife of a wealthy banker hides a fiery communist fugitive in her apartment.In Paris, the estranged wife of a wealthy banker hides a fiery communist fugitive in her apartment.
"Ninotchka" was an MGM film that received four Academy Award nominations. Most cinephiles, critics and film historians consider 1939 the most competitive year in Hollywood history, if not the year of the greatest films. But for that, "Ninotchka" might have received more nominations and maybe even won one or more Oscars. The next year wasn't quite as competitive, and Columbia's "He Stayed for Breakfast" isn't as good as the previous film. But it's a superb comedy as well.
Douglas is hilarious as Paul Boliet. He left America after some ups and downs in trying to organize communist cells. He rues his failure with the dance hall girls. Now in Paris, he has had more success with various groups of workers. He works as a waiter himself, and is known by his comrades throughout the city.
After he takes a pot shot at wealthy banker Maurice Duval, Boliet is pursued by the police. He is chased and cornered atop an apartment building that just happens to be where Duval's separated wife, Marianne, lives. Duval is trying to convince her to come back to him, while she is also being courted by Andre Dorlay, the publisher of a major Parisian newspaper. But all of that is about to change as the police close in on Boliet and he enters Marianne's life.
Loretta Young plays Marianne, Eugene Pallette is Maurice and Alan Marshal is Andre Dorlay. Among the best of the rest of the cast are Una O'Connor as Doreta, Curt Bois as Comrade Tronavich, Leonid Kinskey as Comrade Nicky, and Frank Sully as the butcher.
All contribute to the humor in this wonderful comedy. Douglas and Young play wonderfully off each other. And he is particularly hilarious in some scenes. Boliet is always hungry and eating in this film as though he was starving as a communist. In one scene, the chicken bones he has picked clean fill a large bowl, and he's still eating. One wonders how many chickens Douglas ate for this filming. Another time the butcher delivers a steak large enough to feed six men, but Marianne thinks it may not be enough for Paul.
This is a wonderful, hilarious comedy. Sure, the story, setting and situation are improbable. All of those factors make it that much funnier. This is a comedy as much for appreciating the actors of the time as for the subject. And, anyone who follows the films and actors of the past can't help but laugh throughout this superb comedy.
There's so much great dialog in this film, as well as situational comedy. Here are some favorite lines.
Paul Boliet, "Capitalists and little fingers - they're becoming inseparable."
Paul Boliet, "You're a capitalist -- you could afford a nervous breakdown. I had to shoot."
Paul Boliet, "Anarchism is people without government." Marianne Duval, "And communism is government without people."
Marianne Duval, "Must the distribution of wealth start with my ice box?" Paul Boliet, "Was the chicken created only for the rich?"
Marianne Duval, "How many people have you shot?" Paul Boliet, "What am I - a bookkeeper?"
Marianne Duval, "Don't you keep your word?" Paul Boliet, "That's up to Moscow."
Doreta, " I'm no communist. I worked hard for my savings and I'm splitting with nobody - revolution or no revolution."
Doreta, "Mmm, for a comrade, you give plenty of orders. Come the revolution there'll be no bosses but you. You'll have to assassinate yourself."
Doreta, "Do you always eavesdrop?" Paul Boliet, "How can you know anything if you don't?"
Butcher, holding up a huge cut of beef, "He's got enough here for six people." Marianne Duval, "Only if the other five don't eat."
Marianne Duval, "You were worried about me?" Paul Boliet, "Certainly! What would happen to me if something happened to you?"
Marianne Duval, "Tell me one thing - how many people have you killed?" Paul Boliet, "Including women, nineteen." Marianne, "No children?" Paul, "We don't count children." Marianne, "You're a liar and a fake. You never shot anyone."
Marianne Duval, "How did you ever find time between revolutions to learn to dance so well?" Paul Boliet, "I was an organizer once in a taxi dance hall in America." Marianne, "Oh, really?" Paul, 'It was my worst failure. Taxi dancers are born capitalists. They all want to marry millionaires."
Paul Boliet, "She was older than I was." Marianne Duval, "Oh, oh, the mother complex, I know." Paul, "I was five and she was six." Marianne, "Oh, the old hag."
- Apr 1, 2020