Movie of the Week: Silk Stockings (1957)

After finding out that Silk Stockings is based from the broadway production Ninotchka, I knew I would eventually need to see the play- or even design it. What a thrill to watch Ninotchka Yoschenko (played by Cyd Charisse) break out of her professional Russian shell while visiting Paris on an official mission. She runs into Steve Canfield (played by Fred Astaire) while performing her duty and he decides from the very beginning that he sees a softer side in her, and wants to show her all that Paris can offer, including romance. It isn't easy for Astaire to persuade her; her harsh tone and demands seem to never end until he finally gets her to dance with him. After they dance, she seems to slowly change into a more lenient person, and lets her Russian duty fall wayside. The film becomes most entertaining when Charisse breaks out her pair of nude silk stockings and petticoat and dances around her hotel room in euphoria. The audience then knows there's no going back from then on. She proves to be such an entertaining dancer that I would dare to say she rivals the grace of Audrey Hepburn's dancing in some films- and they certainly have a similar style. Cyd suddenly snaps out of her daze at the end of the film and re-embarks back to Russia to get business done. She seems to forget Astaire, but when she is forced to return to Paris for another mission, she soon meets Astaire again, and he insists on marrying her and they dance away together. Overall, I think this would be a fantastic play to watch on Broadway and I enjoyed the film despite Ninotchka's harsh tone in the beginning. At the risk of sounding feminist- she's almost too beautiful to be believable in such a rugged and tightly knit position as she so holds with the Russian government. However, this is pivotal to her breaking loose and letting go and makes it even more enjoyable. She still keeps an heir of professionalism, but we start to see her in a different way- a younger and more flirtatious light. Although I didn't include any screen caps of Peggy Dayton (played by Janis Page) she certainly lights up the screen with her pastel brightly colored dresses and matching furs. Her performance of "Satin and Silk" was hilariously entertaining and she certainly knows how to keep the audiences attention. What a dream she must have been to costume design for this film since Charisse was mostly in professional earth tone skirts and turtle necks! I recommend this film for the dancing especially.
love, polly