(Review originally written at 17 September 2008)

Ernst Lubitsch was a good genre director, who made more fun movies like this around the same time. He already began his career way back in 1914 as a director, in his native Germany. Writer and acclaimed director Billy Wilder, who co-wrote the screenplay for this movie always had regarded him as one of his favorite directors. His style, called 'The Lubitsch Touch' was even a well known phrase at the time. The movie features some great humor, which makes this movie a very amusing one to watch. This is thanks to Lubitsch's but also really thanks to its script with some fine, comical written dialog in it.

It's the kind of movie in which the story is more secondary. Having said that it doesn't mean that the movie has a bad story though. It's a quite good story on its own right and basically one fine and effective story to build a good and fun movie around, like this movie turned out. But besides being a comedy the movie of course also still is a romantic one and a quite good and original one I must say, which is mostly due to Greta Garbo's character and her performance, in one of her last movie roles till her early retirement.

Greta Garbo deserved an Oscar for her role in this movie but unfortunately she only received a nomination. She plays a tough, cold, stereotyped Soviet official, who melts for the charms of the Melvyn Douglas character. She plays it in an entertaining way, without falling into comical and overdone clich├ęs. Melvyn Douglas was also truly great in the movie and he and Garbo formed a great couple in this movie. The movie also features Bela Lugosi, in a rare comical role. Not that his role is anything too comical though. He probably is the most serious character out of the movie. His role is also quite small really and only is in the movie for a couple of minutes, at the very end of the movie.

The movie can also be seen as a satire on the former Soviet union and the different social classes. East meets west in this movie and the movie doesn't leave an opportunity wasted to make fun of both worlds but without ever getting offensive or crossing the edge. It's a fun satire, rather than one that is trying to make a statement with it.

Delightful movie!


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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