This was the first time since 1934 that Garbo had been seen in the 20th century, and the first time ever that her material was predominantly comic (though it was hardly the first time she'd laughed, as the ads insisted). But her character still had an icy aura, at least at the outset - she plays a Russian comrade staying in Paris on government business, a situation providing writers Wilder, Brackett and Walter Reisch with rich material for impish political jokes ('The last mass trials were a great success. There are going to be fewer but better Russians'). Then she meets the acceptable face of Capitalism in the form of Melvyn Douglas, and like many a lesser MGM star before her, succumbs completely to his suave looks and honeyed voice. The film's not quite the delight history says it is - by the late '30s, the famed Lubitsch touch was resembling a heavy blow, the elegant sophistication turning crude and cynical. Yet it's still consistently amusing, and Garbo throws herself into the fray with engaging vigour.
Cast and crew
Charles Brackett, Billy Wilder, Walter Reisch
Greta Garbo Melvyn Douglas Ina Claire Bela Lugosi Sig Ruman Felix Bressart Alexander Granach Gregory Gaye Rolfe Sedan