Yay! I get to write to do my compare/contrast segment post (also known as my Old Hollywood/New Hollywood post, also known as my musical remakes post). I've been wanting to do another one for quite a while. It's so exciting!
There are several that I want to do but I think I'll go with comparing Ninotchka (1939) and Silk Stockings (1957). I watched the original a few months ago for the first time. Although, now that I think of it, "a few months ago" may very well have been January. Ah well. The truth is, I saw the remake first. And the first movie is usually the most dear, if only for sentimental reasons. Sometimes there are exceptions, but I've found that people are usually more attached to the first version of anything they've seen. That said, you can probably guess which of the two I prefer.
I think the original has many marks in its favor. A brilliant cast, for one. Greta Garbo and Melvyn Douglas are in fine form in this movie and both are delightful to see. The movie also has the benefit of being the original and, thus, the jokes are fresher and newer than they are in the remake.
Now, here are my problems with the movie. I don't like Ninotchka's transition. I don't think there is enough leading up to her change. She laughs and then, suddenly, she's a new woman. I suppose the laugh is a magical moment for her, but I have a hard time believing her new love and her new free spirit after just one luncheon. And, although this may sound odd, I do believe it in the musical, where the change arises from a dance. Again, not exactly a realistic approach, but a lot can come from music and a lot can be expressed in a dance. The "All of You" number shows her loosening and changing and, by the end of the number, we're as transported by the music as she is. That is the benefit of musicals - they get music and music has a magic all its own. What's more, the musical has Cole Porter music, which is in a class all its own. There are some fantastic numbers in this movie which is one of the major reasons I enjoy it.
As much as I like Greta Garbo and Melvyn Douglas, I have to confess that I love Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse more. Not saying they're better actors necessarily; I just happen to like them better. I love Cyd Charisse and I think she is adorable in her role. Ironically, neither Fred Astaire nor Melvyn Douglas are exactly the handsomest men around (in my opinion), but if I were to choose between them, I'd pick Fred Astaire. This probably comes as no suprise, really, but there it is.
However, I will say this about the original. I absolutely love the scene when Ninotchka first meets Leon. I enjoy the way she tolerates his flirtation.
Which do you prefer? The original or the musical remake? I'm posting a poll to the side so you can tell me there.