Follow TV Tropes


Film / Silk Stockings

Go To

The 1957 Musical remake of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's 1935 Romantic Comedy Ninotchka, directed by Rouben Mamoulian and starring Fred Astaire, Cyd Charisse and Peter Lorre. It was based on a 1954 stage show with music by Cole Porter.

An American movie producer, Steve Canfield (Astaire), wants Russian composer Peter Boroff to write the music for his next movie. The composer decides to stay in Paris, but three Russian operatives, Comrades Brankov (Lorre), Bibinski and Ivanov are sent from Moscow to take Boroff back. Following Canfield's successful corruption of these three with western luxuries, Nina "Ninotchka" Yoschenko (Charisse), an Ice Queen displomat, is sent to bring all four men back home...

Tropes include:

  • Adaptation Name Change: Mostly in the Soviet characters. Ninotchka now has the Ukrainian-sounding name "Yoschenko" instead of the Russian-sounding "Yakushova". The three commissars are Bibinski, Ivanov, and Brankov instead of Buljanoff, Iranoff, and Kopalski.
  • Call-and-Response Song: "Paris Loves Lovers." The main melody is sung by Canfield, with Ninotchka adding disapproving commentary:
    Paris (Capitalistic!) loves lovers (Characteristic!)
    for lovers (Sensualistic!) it's heaven above (They should be atheistic)
    Paris (Imperialistic!) tells lovers (I'm pessimistic)
    love is supreme, wake up your dream and make love (That's anti-communistic!)
  • Character Development: Ninotchka and Canfield both, under each other's influences.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: How the movie unfolds regarding Ninotchka.
  • Distracted by the Luxury: The three commissars are a rare male example of the trope, immediately abandoning their principles for caviar and champagne.
  • Gay Paree: The setting, particularly as described in the song "Paris Loves Lovers."
  • The Hedonist: Steve initially; he uses this to persuade the Russians not to deport Boroff.
  • Ironic Echo: Non-tragic example; to demonstrate the changing relationship between the two leads:
    Iranoff: Do you want to be alone, comrade?
    Ninotchka: No.
    Later: "Go to bed, Little Brother — we want to be alone."
  • Lighter and Softer than the original film, though it still has some fairly pointed humor.
  • Mother Russia Makes You Strong: Ninotchka is initially as cold and presumably as tough as the hull of the tanks she drove during World War 2. Then Defrosting Ice Queen kicks in.
  • Take That!: "Stereophonic Sound", both in the film and outside the film.
    • In both film and theatre, Peggy Dayton does a verse deprecating her recent film.
    • Much of the song could be a Take That to MGM and MGM stars. Peggy Dayton is likely an expy of Esther Williams. Both Ava Gardner and Lassie starred in several MGM films. The reference to "a fella hugged his partner as they cuddled cheek to cheek" is a reference to Fred Astaire himself ("Cheek to Cheek" was an earlier number of his from Top Hat), while the reference to a ballet dancer is aimed at Gene Kelly.
  • That Russian Squat Dance: Brankov (Peter Lorre) does one with grim determination by propping himself up between a chair and a table.
  • The Musical: Of Ninotchka. (All Musicals Are Adaptations.)
  • The Spock: Ninotchka, in the beginning.
  • Truer to the Text: The stage musical strayed a little further from the source—for example, ending with Steve coming to the Soviet Union to find Ninotchka. The movie version sticks closer to the original, ending with Steve arranging to have Ninotchka sent to Paris to retrieve the three commisars, who have opened a Russian restaurant.
  • Uptight Loves Wild: With a genderflip from the usual pattern.
  • Writing Around Trademarks: Averted in "Stereophonic Sound". Not only are numerous film and color processes mentioned, but Warnercolor (Used by MGM competitor Warner Brothers) is mentioned.