Friday, February 26, 2016

Great Films of 1939: “Ninotchka” March 12 at Daystar Center

Great films of 1939: Ninotchka
Where: The Venue 1550 at the Daystar Center, 1550 S. State Street, Chicago, IL
When: March 12, 2016
Time: 6:45 p.m.
Hosted by Stephen Reginald

Ninotchka (1939) was the movie that proclaimed, “Garbo laughs!” The great Great Garbo is Ninotchka is a sophisticated delight. The supporting cast includes, Sig Ruman, Felix Bressart, Alexander Granach, and Bela (Dracular) Lugosi. Ninotchka, a special Russian envoy tasked with completing a deal to sell some jewelry that once belonged to an exiled member of Russian royalty (Ina Claire) now living in Paris. Ninotchka is all business and refuses to be taken in by the luxury and romance of the city of lights until she meets Count Leon d’ Algout (Melvin Douglas). Leon flirts with Ninotchka and shows her what a wonderful city Paris is and what it’s like living in a free society. Does Ninotchka hold fast to the tenets of Stalin and the Soviet Union or does she give in to the lure of democracy and capitalism? Directed by the legendary Ernst Lubitsch and written by Billy Wilder, Charles Brackett and Walter Reisch,

Ninotchka was a radical departure for Garbo. It was her first full-blown comedy film and it remains one of her most popular. Her performance garnered an Oscar nomination for Best Actress (she lost out, of course, to Vivian Leigh in Gone with the Wind). The film was also Oscar-nominated for Best Picture and Best Original Story, and Best Screenplay.

Backstory: By 1939, Great Garbo’s popularity was beginning to wane. Under the direction of Ernst Lubitsch, Garbo gives a wonderfully shaded performance as a woman whose life changes under the spell and romance of Paris. Garbo’s next film, Two-Faced Woman, also costarring Melvyn Douglas, was supposed to capitalize on Ninotchka’s success, but turned out to be a critical and commercial failure. It was Garbo’s last film. After the film was completed, she retired from the movies and acting altogether. Attempts to bring her out of retirement—and there were many—were  unsuccessful.

The movie which pokes fun at Stalin and the Soviet Union was banned in that country, but was enormously popular in Europe.


Have some Joe and Enjoy the Show!
Before the movie, grab a cup of coffee from Overflow Coffee Bar, located within the Daystar Center. You can bring food and beverages into the auditorium; we even have small tables set up next to some of the seats. General Admission: $5 Students and Senior Citizens: $3.


Join the Chicago Film club; join the discussion
Twice a month we screen classic films and have a brief discussion afterward. For more information, including how to join (it’s free), click here. The Venue 1550 is easily accessible by the CTA. Please visit Transit Chicago for more information on transportation options.

Stephen Reginald is a freelance writer and editor. He has worked at various positions within the publishing industry for over 25 years. Most recently he was executive editor for McGraw-Hill’s The Learning Group Division. A long-time amateur student of film, Reginald hosts “Chicago Film Club,” a monthly movie event held in the South Loop, for the past two years. Reginald has also taught several adult education film classes at Facets Film School, Chicago.


Daystar Center located at 1550 S. State St. works through a grassroots network of collaborations and partnerships with individuals and other nonprofit organizations. Through this web, they’re able to provide educational, cultural, and civic activities that enrich and empower their clients, guests, and community members. To learn more about classes and events offered at the Daystar Center, please visit their Web site.
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