Ninotchka was a long-awaited, classic romantic comedy, with a clever and witty script and the magnificent presence of actress Greta Garbo in her first official American comedy (in her next-to-last film). The charming film about clashing ideologies (Soviet communism vs. capitalism) Garbo first is portrayed as a humorless, cold, curt, deadpan, and seriously-austere Russian envoy (in a parody of her own stiff onscreen image), who soon melts and is transformed and softened by Parisian love (and the persuasive playboy Count) into a frivolous, romantic figure and converted Communist.
This famous film still brings laughs. Garbo so cleanly switches from the stern Soviet official to a real woman. That new persona moves from the earlier scenes where she confronts Leon with “Must you flirt?” When he responds, “Well, I don’t have to, but I find it natural,” she orders, “Suppress it.”
Of course he doesn’t suppress it and after Leon’s fall in the café which breaks her resolve, the romance becomes two sided.
“I’m so happy, I’m so happy! Nobody can be so happy without being punished,” Ninotchka says. “When I kissed you,” she says, “I betrayed a Russian ideal. I should be stood up against the wall.” “Would that make you feel better?” asks Leon. “Much better,” she smiles. “I have paid the penalty.”
In the end Ninotchka says, “Let’s form our own party.” And Leon agrees, “Right. Lovers of the world, unite!