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Silk Stockings – Rouben Mamoulian

Submitted by matt on January 20, 2011 – 1:41 amNo Comment

The activities of the couple. are interrupted by the intrusion of Peggy Dayton, who reveals Canfield’s plan to have Boroff compose music for his film. Her Soviet dignity and pride offended, Ninotchka leaves. Canfield then convinces Peggy to use her considerable charms to enlist Boroff himself in their caUse; that is, to allow his music to be converted into tunes appropriate for the hit parade. For Canfield’s plan is not to produce a version of War and Peace at all, but a spicy account of the life of Josephine in “glorious technicolor, breathtaking CinemaScope, and stereophonic sound”—features of the Hollywood spectacular which earlier provided a rousing, satiric musical number for Canfield and Peggy.

The next morning, Ninotchka is so starry-eyed from Canfield’s dancing, singing, and kissing that she cannot seriously deal with the matter which has brought her to Paris. As her three colleagues discuss Boroff with her, she dreamily picks at the typewriter. Her hair, softened into waves which contrast with the austere style of the previous day, signals the feminizing process inherent in her awakening experience.

In the meantime, Peggy has lured Boroff to her fashion designer’s, where she seduces him by modeling the latest undergarments. Her song, “Satin and Silk,” expounds the power of such feminine clothing to make a woman feel alluring and attractive. Peggy’s song and its effect on Boroff testify to the power of feminine wiles.

This scene is effectively juxtaposed with one in Ninotchka’s room. Having called off a meeting with Boroff, she draws the curtains, turns Lenin’s photograph face down, and exchanges her dark stockings for ones made from Parisian silk—garments she had sneered at upon her arrival in Paris. In a sensuous dance, she casts off her uniform for the Western accouterments she has secreted around her suite: delicate underwear, a bracelet, earrings, perfume, high-heeled slippers, and an evening gown. Her metamorphosis com¬plete; she is ready for a night on the town with Canfield. She now represents the 1950′s feminine concept, in contrast to her dowdy and severe appearance upon arriving in Paris. Returning at two o’clock in the morning after drinking much champagne, Ninotchka is even more starry-eyed. When she slips into a tipsy sleep, Canfield chastely lays her on a couch and leaves.

The next day at the movie studio where they have gone to watch the filming of Canfield’s’ movie, Steve proposes marriage to Ninotchka, singing that they are “Fated to Be Mated.” Although she yearns to accept, she fears the repressive Soviet government will prevent it. On the set itself the expected serious treatment of War and Peace turns out to be a travesty. Peggy, playing a sultry Josephine, performs Boroff’s “Ode to a Tractor” in the style of American popular music. The Soviets, Ninotchka included, view this as an affront to their culture and return to Moscow

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