Silk Stockings (1957 film)

Silk Stockings is a 1957 American musical romantic comedy film directed by Rouben Mamoulian and starring Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse. It is based on the 1955 stage musical of the same name,[2] which had been adapted from the film Ninotchka (1939).[3] The film was choreographed by Eugene Loring and Hermes Pan.

Silk Stockings
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRouben Mamoulian
Screenplay by
Based on
Produced byArthur Freed
CinematographyRobert J. Bronner
Edited byHarold F. Kress
Music by
Distributed byMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date
July 18, 1957 (1957-07-18TUnited States)
Running time
117 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$2.6 million[1]
Box office$2.8 million[1]

The film received Golden Globe Award nominations for Best Film and Best Actress (Charisse) in the Comedy/Musical category.[4]

The score was embellished with the new song "The Ritz Roll and Rock", a parody of the emerging rock and roll music genre. The number ends with Astaire symbolically smashing his top hat, considered one of his trademarks, signaling the retirement from movie musicals that he announced following the film's release.

Plot edit

In Paris, American producer Steve Canfield wants Russian composer Peter Ilyitch Boroff to compose the score for his next picture. Three Soviet commissars Brankov, Bibinski, and Ivanov attempt to escort the composer back to Russia. To keep Boroff in Paris, Steve contests the composer's Russian citizenship by producing an affidavit disputing his parentage and insists it be resolved in court. Steve further convinces the commissars that Boroff's collaboration will earn them promotions in Moscow. Despite their initial resistance, the commissars consent to the collaboration.

Back in Moscow, Vassili Markovitch becomes the new commissar of art. He sends Russian agent Nina "Ninotchka" Yoschenko to retrieve Boroff from Paris. She meets the commissars in the hotel lobby. In their suite, Steve shows Ninotchka the affidavit and attempts to charm her with the locale, but Ninotchka insists that she will not be persuaded by the city's bourgeois.

Later that night, Hollywood actress Peggy Dayton arrives at the hotel, where several reporters interview her about her first serious role in an adaptation of War and Peace. The next morning, Steve escorts Ninotchka on a tour of Paris, alternating between boiler rooms and beauty salons. When they return to his hotel room, Steve sets a romantic mood with lower lights and music, but Ninotchka insists that romantic attraction is purely "electro-chemical". Steve and Ninotchka contrast their beliefs on romantic attraction, and after a waltz around the room, the two kiss.

Peggy walks into the room and insults Boroff, causing Ninotchka to leave. She tries to back out of the project because it's not a musical, to which Steve suggests she seduce Boroff into adapting his music to sound contemporary. At a costume fitting, Boroff, who is infatuated with Peggy, initially refuses to musicalize his compositions, but accepts the idea. Later that afternoon, Ninotchka locks herself in her room and dresses in Parisian lingerie. The same night, Ninotchka, dressed in a silky evening gown, joins Steve for a romantic evening. When Ninotchka returns to the commissars' room, they confess that Boroff's "Ode to a Tractor" is being rewritten into popular music for the film. Contrary to their suspicions, Ninotchka is delighted by the idea and dismisses them.

Alone with Steve, Ninotchka raves about Paris' beauty, convinced that love, not utilitarianism, leads to happiness. The next day, on a soundstage, Steve confesses to Ninotchka the affidavit was faked, and proposes to her. Swept away by their love, the two dance from one stage to another, finally arriving on set. As Peggy begins singing Boroff's revised music, he and Ninotchka are insulted by the changes. Steve defends it, asserting that Americans make popular songs out of classical music for audiences to enjoy. Angered, Ninotchka tells Steve that she is neglecting her duty and decides to return to Russia immediately with Boroff and the commissars.

Months later, Boroff and the commissars, who have been saved from punishment by Ninotchka's report, visit her at her apartment. Ninotchka attempts to read Steve's letter, which has been so heavily censored that only the salutation remains. Soon after, Boroff, now fascinated with Western music, plays his new composition on the piano, prompting Ninotchka, the commissars, and the tenants to dance. Shortly after, Markovitch sends Ninotchka back to Paris to retrieve the commissars, who have been sent there to sell Russian films. When she arrives, the commissars take Ninotchka to their new Russian café, where Steve performs a top hat routine.

Back at the hotel room, Ninotchka states she will return to Russia that night. Steve arrives in the room, revealing that he wrote the anonymous report in order to get her out of Russia. He also reminds her of the marriage proposal contained in his censored letter. In love, Ninotchka rips up her plane ticket and embraces him while the commissars celebrate.

Cast edit

Cyd Charisse as Ninotchka Yoschenko

Songs edit

Music and lyrics by Cole Porter:

  • "Too Bad"
  • "Paris Loves Lovers"
  • "Stereophonic Sound"
  • "It's a Chemical Reaction, That's All"
  • "All of You"
  • "Satin and Silk"
  • "Without Love"
  • "Fated to Be Mated"
  • "Josephine"
  • "Siberia"
  • "The Red Blues"
  • "The Ritz Roll and Rock"

Production edit

MGM purchased the film rights to the musical for $300,000. Dance rehearsals started on September 18, 1956 and filming ended on January 31, 1957.[5]

Reception edit

Box office edit

According to MGM records, the film earned $1,740,000 in the U.S. and Canada and $1,060,000 in other markets, resulting in a loss of $1,399,000.[1]

Critical reaction edit

Bosley Crowther of The New York Times wrote: "There should be legislation requiring that Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse appear together in a musical picture at least once every two years. Previously they were together in 'The Band Wagon' and the world was brightened. That was away back in 1953. Now they are together in 'Silk Stockings,' and somebody should declare a holiday ... For the simple fact is that this 'Silk Stockings' is an all-round refreshing show, blessed with a bright book, delicious music and the dancing of Miss Charisse and Mr. Astaire. Whether it would be as good without them—without the two principals, that is—is a purely subversive speculation. They are in it, and you can take it from there."[6] Harrison's Reports felt the story "is not as mirthful as the original and its running time is somewhat overlong, but on the whole it keeps one chuckling throughout and has some very funny moments."[7]

Whitney Williams of Variety wrote: "Astaire delivers his customary style, and Miss Charisse brings a fascinating brightness to her role. Miss Paige shares top honors with the stars for a knock-'em-dead type of performance", but felt the film could have been shorter.[8] Edwin Schallert of the Los Angeles Times felt the film has "the benefit of delightful and clever Cole Porter music derived from the stage version"; he further praised the cast writing "Astaire, Miss Charisse and Miss Paige are evidently ready, willing and able to avail themselves of every opportunity presented. As one of the trio of Soviet Ambassadors Jules Munshin maintains a high pace of humor, with Peter Lorre providing hilarious counterpoint and Joseph Buloff supplying some antic fun."[9]

On the review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an aggregate score of 100% based on five critics' reviews, with an average of 7.9/10.[10]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ a b c The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study.
  2. ^ "Silk Stockings". Broadway Musical Home. Archived from the original on May 18, 2023. Retrieved August 19, 2016.
  3. ^ "Ninotchka". Turner Classic Movies. Archived from the original on October 13, 2022. Retrieved October 12, 2022.
  4. ^ "Golden Globes 1957". Sijmen's List of Film Classics. Archived from the original on March 3, 2016. Retrieved September 8, 2017.
  5. ^ Nat Segaloff, Final Cuts: The Last Films of 50 Great Directors, Bear Manor Media 2013 p 182-184
  6. ^ Crowther, Bosley (July 19, 1957). "The Screen: 'Silk Stockings' Arrives". The New York Times. p. 11. Archived from the original on February 2, 2024. Retrieved February 2, 2024.
  7. ^ "'Silk Stockings' with Fred Astaire, Cyd Charisse and Janis Paige". Harrison's Reports. May 25, 1957. p. 82. Retrieved February 1, 2024 – via Internet Archive.
  8. ^ Williams, Whitney (May 22, 1957). "Film Reviews: Silk Stockings". Variety. p. 6. Retrieved February 1, 2024 – via Internet Archive.
  9. ^ Schallert, Edwin (July 25, 1957). "'Silk Stockings' Amusing Colorful Musical Show". Los Angeles Times. Part IV, p. 10. Archived from the original on February 2, 2024. Retrieved February 1, 2024 – via  
  10. ^ "Silk Stockings". Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on November 14, 2022. Retrieved November 13, 2022.

External links edit