"The book is a film that takes place in the mind of the reader." ~ Paulo Coelho

Saturday, November 7, 2020

Movie Review: Silk Stockings (1957)


Ah, musicals! They are so much fun, right? Sometimes you watch one and it changes your life...and sometimes to get one that at best makes you feel, “eh”. Today I'll be talking about, sadly, one of the later. But, I have a lot of fun roasting planned in this review which I know I will have a blast writing, and I hope you enjoy reading it!

My guarantee: On ALL of my reviews there are NO spoilers unless I give you warning. This is spoiler free, so wipe those worries away!

Silk Stockings (1957):
Based on: Ninotchka - by Melchoir Lengyel. This is a musical remake of the 1939 film. 
Russian citizen Vassili Markovitch is going to write the score for a movie in Paris. The Russian government doesnʼt like that and sends three men to take him back. They botch the job and the government is forced to send in one of their top agents, Ninotchka Yoschenko.  She is no nonsense. Things become complicated when the producer of the movie, Steve Canfield, finds himself attracted to her. Will the movie be made and will their lives all go back to normal?
: Musical, Romance, Drama.
Length: approx. 117 minutes.
Script: 9, no bad words. I'm taking down just a slight bit for a pet peeve of mine, which is when people don't use adverbs. In here a character said, "Live simple and die natural." and I nearly pulled my hair out.
'"You 'go, go, go', but you don't get anywhere."
"You're telling me!"
Crew: Directed by: Rouben Mamoulian. Written by: Melchoir Lengyel, Leonard Gershe, Leonard Spigelgass, George S. Kaufman, Leueen McGrath, & Abe Burrows.
Fred Astaire as Steve Canfield.
Cyd Charisse as Ninotchka Yoschenko.
Jules Munshin as Bibinski.
Peter Lorre as Brankov.
Joseph Buloff as Ivanov.
George Tobias as Vassili Markovitch.
Janis Paige as Peggy Dayton.
Wim Sonneveld as Peter Ilyitch Boroff.
Costumes: 5, this is due to the fact that we had two whole scenes where people are dancing around in their underclothing. And making a point of it. There is actually a song all about it. It was just strange and weird and any other adjective that I can think of like that.
Costumes by: Helen Rose.
Cinematography: 7, I wasn't wowed, but musicals have lots of choreography, so that was fun.
Cinematography by:
Robert Bronner. An interesting thing is that all dances with Fred Astaire in it were choreographed by Hermes Pan, and all other dances were choreographed by Eugene Loring.
Music: 7, due to the song about underwear. But, I didn't mind a lot of the others. In fact, one song made me really happy.
Music by: Cole Porter and Conrad Salinger.
Notes: The character Peggy Dayton is obviously based on the actress Esther Williams, which was a tiny bit offensive to me because Peggy was very irritating and anytime I've seen Esther she was perfectly lovely. They reference her movie Neptune's Daughter (1949) which a fictional movie called "Neptune's Mother". In addition to that there are also lots of Russian stereotypes. There is also a reference to the play The Merchant of Venice.
Quotability: N/A, as I just watched it for the first time the other day.
Character 1: "Any questions?"
Character 2: "Uh--"
Character 1: "I will ask the questions!"
Content: 5, in addition to the costume thing (which you are probably tired of me mentioning it, but I got really tired of it, okay?), there is talk of suicide, smoking, drinking, very suggestive things, and talk of affairs between married and unmarried people.
Originality: 7, I've seen movies about making movies, and parts were pretty predictable. 
Good For: Fred Astaire fans.
Age Range:
I am completely undecided here. A lot of the content could probably go unnoticed by little kids, but maybe not. I was really bored while watching it (seriously, I kept stopping it to go do other things, and I never do that), but little kids might find it interesting with the dances? I don't know. I can't give an accurate figure here.
Overall Score: 6.5
"The arrangement of your features is not entirely repulsive to me."
Worth watching?: Yes, for one reason, but have patience, I will tell you what that was very soon.
Will I watch again?: Nope, I don't think I will. Once was enough for me.

For the blogathon:
(Did I have to look up the word Panache in the dictionary? The world will never know.)
When I heard about this blogathon I was so excited because those are two from the Golden Age of musicals! But, why did I pick this one? Story time! Looking through all of the posts that I have written, it turns out that I have reviewed quite a few musicals with either Fred Astaire or Gene Kelly. They are as follows:
(Okay, there arenʼt as many as there seemed to be, but I promise you that more is coming soon!)
Singinʼ in the Rain (1952) (Also known as my favorite movie of all time, no doubt about it)

And I have seen a few others, but my final choice came down to two: Review Follow the Fleet (1936) (One from Fred which I hated) or find something new. At the last moment, I had the opportunity to watch this and I jumped at it! I had never seen it before. It seemed fitting for this blogathon, because Fred Astaire retired from making musicals after this.

As you can tell with my review, I was not impressed. And to be honest, I was warned by THIS POST. Overall this just has that gritty quality of some late '50s movies. I have the feeling that it was made to show off how amazing Paris is, but it did the opposite for me. If that is all that Paris is, then I have no interest in going there. But, it wasn't a total waste of time, and there are somethings that I liked. In all due time, I'll get to it, but I'm going to do a wee bit of ranting first. With that I might start waltzing into SPOILER territory, so warning for that.

Firstly, the characters. Did I like the main character, Ninotchka?

*Picture this: a gif of Horst Kerr from Ratatouille (2007) saying, "Yeah, of course. Before he changed it."*

Ugh, how to start. When we first meet Ninotchka I was really impressed with her. She is direct and to the point, organized and tidy, and loyal and determined to help her country on whatever task she is given. Based on her credentials we know that she is very brave. She even has a good line: 
"It seems to me that seduction can only take place when one is willing."
In Paris we see her strength and stamina. "I prefer the stairs." (Up to the forth floor! I always take the stairs, too.)

She doesn't see why she should be treated any differently than the respect a man always gets. She says:
"Please don't make an issue of my womanhood."

What happens? The whole rest of the movie we make an issue of it. She meets Steve. Okay, there was absolutely no chemistry or attraction between them, but the filmmakers decided to try to make them a couple. Now don't get me wrong, I love Fred Astaire, but his character was very frustrating. Steve literally liked nothing about Ninotchka except how she looked. He was constantly trying to change who she was, just "so that she could be more like a woman". Apparently all of these good qualities that Ninotchka had, were 'too much like a man's'? Wow, really?

No characteristic is more masculine than feminine. Not even a combination of qualities immediately points to a certain gender. Every single person on in the world is different. If a woman is couragous it doesn't mean that she is trying to be manly. If a man has skill and precision it doesn't mean that he is girly. These are all shared traits!

Let me ask you, what exact does being a woman mean? The wonderful thing is that there is no right or wrong answer. But, according to this movie it is dressing up in fancy things and being pretty. Now, I am not bashing anyone who likes to do that. It is a perfectly good thing to do! I just ask that people don't critize anyone who isn't interested in that.

At the beginning of the movie we see the downfall and temptation of some men, so I understand how they were trying to even it out, which is fair. I get that it is about a character starting to live life and appreciate it, which I am all for.
"For the first time in my life I looked at something and thought, 'how beautiful' instead of 'how useful'."
But, you don't just flip the switch on people that quickly. People are complicated and detailed. It just could've been better. How? 


Nothing with Ninotchka's character made sense (after a certain point), but if we could've had some more about her past it might have been clearer. Maybe she was a ballerina, but was rejected which is why she doesn't like to dance anymore. Maybe she grew up in a very poor place and always wanted special things but the one time she got something it was ruined immediately and therefore started looking at the practical side of things. Maybe she knew someone who died who wasn't prepared for life and she vowed to make sure that she was always ready and not waste time one what didn't matter.

There are a million possibilities here!

Even with the boatload of complaints, I feel like I finally got to see Cyd Charisse act for the first time. Usually she is just a girl for Gene Kelly or Fred Astaire to dance around (yes, I still feel that way about Brigadoon), but in here she was given a character. Sure, a character that was manipulated by the filmmakers, but we have to take the wins where we can.

Okay, now I'm going to get into what I did like about it and why it was worth watching!

Right out of the shoot I have to mention Fred. His dancing is amazing and top notch, as per usual. I remember the day that my sister asked my mom about tap dancing and she told us about Fred for the first time. She showed us two clips, and I immediately loved his dancing! One was with a lady where they danced on roller blades (when I finally watched Shall We Dance? (1937) I got so excited because I'd finally found where it came from!). The second is one that I listen to all the time and really like, but I had no idea what it was from.

Imagine my utter joy when I was watching along without caring and BOOM there it is. One of the final song and dance numbers in this movie was it! It was the one! I was so happy! So worth the whole movie for that.

Another highlight that I want to mention are Jules Munshin and Peter Lorre. I was not expecting to see them and it was a great treat. Peter Lorre's little dance that he tried to do anytime anyone else was dancing around cracked me up. It was hilarious!

Alright...I think I'm done now. Tell me, have any of you seen this? If so I would love to hear your thoughts! What do you like about it?

Thanks to Heidi for hosting this! Make sure to check out the other posts HERE. What do you think, readers? Have you ever watched a movie that you highly disliked, but one thing saved it? Have you ever watched a movie and found, "Oh, that song is from here!"? Thanks for reading!



  1. Aww, well I'm so sorry it was an annoying experience... :/ Your review is excellent though and very helpful. Hopefully you'll still be able to have a good time this weekend reading about some other musicals for a little spot 'o happiness. <3

    I've got two more posts I'm hoping to pull together today (ack! but I'm so excited about both so can't choose between them! *face palm*) so ta ta for now! *waving frantically while dancing off into the horizon*

    P.S. And I'm so glad you found THE song!! ;)

    1. P.P.S. And, of course, thank you so much for joining the blogathon! :)

    2. P.P.P.S. Please kindly ignore any typos due to my semi-distracted state ;P xD

    3. I'm really glad that you found out helpful! I had so much fun writing it, but afterwards I thought out might have been a little rambling. So thank you for reassuring me! :) Ah, there are SO many good posts, and I still have to catch up on reading them all. Lucky for me there is so much goodness in store! ;D

      I completely understand! I am the master of indecision when there are so many good subjects to choose from.

      Finding the song was like finding some pure movie treasure! So good!

      Thank you for hosting! If you ever do anything like it again you can count on me to join.

      (Don't worry about it, to quote Rose from The Last Jedi, "Doing talking is not my forte." XD)

  2. Looks like a cool musical. I guess is haven't seen a lot of musicals.
    Also I'm having a blog anniversary soon if you want to drop some questions.

    1. I've been thinking about putting together a list of my favorite musicals because there are so many good ones.
      Thanks again for the reminder! I don't know how I forgot to leave you some in the first place.

  3. Great review. It sucks that it had a lot of issues.

    1. Thanks, Skye! Your comment is helping make up for it. :D

  4. Awesome review, even if the movie wasn't very good.
    I'm glad the final dance number was good, at least. Hmmm, I don't know if there was a movie I disliked but one thing saved it. Usually if I dislike a movie, nothing really saves it.
    Oh, yes. I love thag feeling. Sometimes I know where a song is from and don't remember until later, and then I say, "That's it! That's where it's from!", and then my sister looks at me like I'm crazy.
    I feel like if the songs aren't good in musicals than it kind of sucks the joy out of it, even if the story is good. Like, I came here for some good singing and dancing. Otherwise,I would have just watched a non-musical.

    1. Thank you, McKayla! That's sweet of you!
      Yeah, this was different for me because usually if I don't like a movie or book and then even if there was a "good part" I don't care enough to like it.
      Haha! Yep, that's it exactly! One time I woke up in the middle of the night and remembered so I had to tell my sisters. They weren't too happy that I woke them up...
      That's a way to put it! In the 40's and 50's they would remake a lot of films into musicals, but sometimes it was just better the original way because the songs weren't necessary.


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"If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, where you stop your story." -Orson Welles