A stern Communist envoy comes to Paris to retreive three wayward comrades and a Russian composer. Instead she warms up to capitalist attractions like champagne, silk stockings, and an American man who convinces her that th... more »ey were fated to be married.
"After starring together in the movie "Bandwagon" (1953), Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse are back, better than ever! For lovers of musical/comedies, "Silk Stockings" is not to be missed!When the Russian offficials find out that their beloved composer Peter Boroff (Wim Sonneveld) does not want to return to Russia after staying in Paris, they decide to take action. They send three comrades Bibinski (Jules Munshin), Brankov (Peter Lorre), and Ivanov (Joseph Buloff) to bring him back. But little do they realize that Boroff had secretly agreed to compose music for director Steve Canfield's (Fred Astaire) new Peggy Daiton (Janis Paige) movie. Steve then gets a plan to make a fake document saying that Boroff is actually half French! He easily convinces Bibinski, Brankov, and Ivanov to stay in Paris while settling the dispute of Boroff's nationality. Meanwhile the three Russians are having the time of their life smoking cigars, going to nightclubs, and enjoying themselves. The Russians take action by sending in envoy extraordinaire Ninotchka (Cyd Charisse) to once and for all bring by not only Boroff but also the other three comrades. Extremely cold and very 'Russian', Ninotchka is disgusted with the decadent Capitalistic Paris. But Steve who starts to fall in love with her, is determined to break her ice and to show her how to live... and to love.Everything is just so totally fantastic about this movie! From the fun-loving Fred Astaire, the icy Cyd Charisse, the three bumbling and hilarious Munshin, Lorre, and Buloffe, and of course, who can forget Janis Paige in her very wacky and outgoing part as the swimstar actress, Peggy Daiton! And of course there are the musical numbers! Here are the dance numbers (Not in any order):"All of You": Beautiful number done by Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse. Steve certainly finds out that Ninotchka can really dance!
"Siberia": Hilarious number done by the Russian trio! It's so amazing seeing Peter Lorre singing and dancing in a musical number! And he seems to be enjoying himself so much!
"Silk Stockings": Cyd Charisse showcases her ballet talents in this very well done and beautiful dance.
"Red Blues": Very fun song and dance with the seemingly dull Russians having a great time.
"Too Bad We Can't Go Back to Moscow": I just love this song and Fred Astaire gets to dance with three Parisian girls who definitely know how to dance!
"Fated to Be Mated": Another Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse dance number.
"Ritz Rollin' Rock": There of course has to be a dance routine where Fred Astaire taps solo. And boy does he tap!
"Stereophonic Sound": Janis Paige and Fred Astaire say the three qualities that are needed nowadays in movies.
"Satin and Silk": Peggy Dainton is desperate to have Boroff's music made into popular songs. This is the number where she 'convinces' him.
"Josephine": The popular song that is made from Boroff's music, "Ode to a Tractors". We never really get to hear the whole thing though.Here are some of my other favorite musicals/comedies which I highly recommend. "Take Me Out to the Ballgame", "Bandwagon", "Cover Girl", "Tea for Two", "Singin' in the Rain", "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers", "The Barkleys of Broadway", the three "That's Entertainment" videos, and "Guys and Dolls". Of course there's plenty more!"
Fred and Cyd are Pure Silk!
Mark Savary | Seattle, WA | 06/08/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Here's an interesting Fred Astaire film from the late fifties that is both dated and timeless. The timelessness comes from Fred and Cyd Charisse in a great musical romantic comedy. The dated aspects are most of the digs at the Cold War Russians, but it's all part of the fun. In this retelling of "Ninotchka", lots of comedy mileage is gotten from the Cold War and the sad state of the Russian citizenry ("You mean you want to get IN to Russia? Of your own free will?!"). Three whole numbers are dedicated to the misery of being a Russian under Communist rule ("Siberia", "Too Bad, We Can't Go Back to Moscow", and "The Red Blues"). Some other tunes like "It's a Chemical Reaction, That's All" pit the Commie view of love against the good ol' red white and blue all-American view.Two numbers, "All of You" and "Silk Stockings", are both well worth the price of admission. There has never been a finer example of the pure grace in the art of dance than when Cyd and Fred perform in "All of You". In the "Silk Stockings" number, Cyd solos in a balletic dance showing how the Russian robot becomes seduced by the luxury and femininity of Paris.The Cole Porter songs are okay, but hardly his apex. "Ritz Roll and Rock" is an interesting curio if nothing else, as Porter and Astaire try their hand at rock n' roll. Even though the song is so-so, the dance number is pretty good, and when the curtain rises on Fred in this one, you know he and he alone owns the dance floor... before the dance even starts!"The Poet and Peasant Overture" is included as a short subject, apparently to show off the new miracle of the CinemaScope widescreen process. As an odd, but added treat, an early Bob Hope short "Paree, Paree", rounds things out. Bob gets second billing to the (now) forgotten actress Dorothy Stone in this 1934 musical tidbit. There's even a strange, Busby Berkeley look to the impromptu dance numbers, with a score of leggy dancers forming ever-evolving star and pinwheel patterns.A good disc by far for Fred fans, and a keeper, regardless."
RITZY LOOKING TRANSFER OF A GREAT MOVIE MUSICAL
Nix Pix | Windsor, Ontario, Canada | 04/22/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"In hindsight "Silk Stockings" proved to be one of MGM's last great musical acheivements and Fred Astaire's final appearance in a musical worthy of his inimitable talents. Astaire plays, Steven Canfield, a rotten capitalist and movie producer who butts heads with communist, special envoy, Nina Yoshenko, who has been sent from Moscow to Paris to apprehend a wayward Russian composer. The cast also includes Janis Paige in a hilarious and campy lampoon of an 'Esther Williams-type' actress attempting to play Napoleon's Josephine in a musical remake of "War and Peace". Peter Lorre and Jules Munshin are at their comedy best as two communist sympathizers wooed by the pleasures of Paris.
AT LAST - a transfer worthy of the elegant Mr. Cole Porter. Warner Home Video gives us a rich looking, robust sounding DVD that really celebrates the performances in this memorable musical. Colors are deep, rich, gorgeous and consistant throughout. Contrast and shadow levels are outstanding. Fine details are amazingly sharp. Edge enhancement, shimmering and aliasing are practically non-existant. There is no pixelization or film or digital grain to speak of, for a thoroughly smooth but sharp visual presentation that will surely please. The audio has been remixed to 5.1 and is marvelous, rich sounding and fully realized within the confines of its dated characteristic.
Extras: Another Cole Porter/making-of featurette that is really a throw away, save the few glimpses of Cyd Charisse and Janis Paige that we get. Theatrical trailer and cast bios and a couple of short subjects - not anamorphically enhanced, even though the film (thank heaven) is!
Bottom Line: This disc is a must have and the only DVD of the Cole Porter bunch worthy of your hard earned money. BUY IT TODAY!"
The End of Fred Astaire
Hammo | Boston, MA | 03/01/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Fred Astaire has always been a performer who's work is very close to my heart. The last real Fred Astaire movie (excluding his geriatric non-singing, non-dancing or non-starring roles) is 1957's "Silk Stockings".
I was a little afraid to watch Silk Stockings at first. Sure, it had a Cole Porter score supervised by Andre Previn, and Hermes Pan choreography, and, sure, Fred made fabulous movies even at that age ("the Bandwagon", "Daddy Long Legs"), but I knew it was Fred's last, and I didn't want to know why. Now I know what a pleasure I was depriving myself of.
"Silk Stockings" is a musical remake of "Ninotchka", a 1939 Greta Garbo picture. It's about a serious stern young russian woman, sent as an envoy to nab a russian composer living illegally in Paris. The composer is betraying his russian classical heritage by writing music for a low brow movie musical. The director of this movie, played by Fred Astaire, distracts the pretty young russian (Cyd Charisse) with the wonders of Paris, classy night clubs, and dancing to jazz. In falling for him, her strict heartless personality melts away.
This movie was produced at the height of the cold war, and the height of Hollywood blacklisting, and it's commie-bashing could make some uncomfortable. To me, those jokes are anything but propaganda. The cultural stereotypes are played for laughs, and should be taken with a grain of salt. Of course, I'm a big fan of the top hat and tails ritzy romantic culture that Astaire's character teaches Charisse's character the joys of, so it's easy for me to say.
With the exception of the classics "All of You" and "Paris is For Lovers", Cole Porter's songs are comic, here. But, that being said, they are hilarious. This was towards the end of Porter's career too. Infact, this was towards the end of the movie musical as America knew it.
Rock and Roll was taking over. To me, the most moving moments in this movie are not the dramatic love scenes shared by Astaire and Charisse, they are the self referential moments, where Porter, Astaire, and choreographer Hermes Pan acknowledge that their era in over.
Porter wrote special material just for this movie. One highlight is a tune called "Stereophonic Sound". In it, the singer quips about how moviegoers used to be content to see talented performers do their thing, and a nice love story, but these days all they want is "glorious Technicolor, breathtaking CinemaScope, and Stereophonic sound!" The song puts down all the gimmickry of the modern Hollywood, and even has one verse quite obviously about Fred Astaire himself. Porter writes that these days a great hoofer in tails is not enough, they want a ballet (alluding to Gene Kelly's ballet dance number fad).
Fred Astaire's last MGM dance number is to the song "Ritz Rollin' Rock". It's Porter's parody of this new music called Rock and Roll, ironically borrowing from Irving Berlin's dated "Puttin' On the Ritz". This sequence, choreographed by Astaire's long-time collaborator Hermes Pan, ends with Fred writhing on the floor, wearing his 1930's tails and top hat. As the horns hit the last big chord, Fred removes his trade-marked top hat and smashes it flat with his fist. The message Porter, Astaire and Pan slipped into this novelty number, is very powerful, if you know what you're seeing.
Pop entertainment changed in the sixties, and the the old kings abdicated their thrones to... well... the King, I suppose.
Anyway, if you're a Fred-head like me, and you're afraid to see Fred's final fling, "Silk Stockings", don't be. You'll be reminded why he and his period of Hollywood was great."
Gorgeous CinemaScope transfer of classy Cole Porter treasure
Eric | Columbus, OH | 10/18/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse create movie magic in Rouben Mamoulian's beautiful and snazzy screen version of Cole Porter's broadway hit.
The transfer to DVD is simply stunning (especially considering it was filmed after the demise of Technicolor) with a bold, fresh host of hues, and sharpness and detail beautifully handled in the conversion from film to tape. The 5.1 surround track truly kicks it, too!