Greta Garbo as Ninotchka

Ninotchka / Two-Faced Woman

  • This is a past program

Presented by the UCLA Film & Television Archive.

Part of the UCLA Film & Television Archive screening series Then Came Garbo... Learn more at


Ernst Lubitsch was one of several directors Greta Garbo had approved to work on Queen Christina (1933), but the two famed émigrés wouldn’t work together until late in both of their careers (though later in Garbo’s than Lubitsch’s). Celebrated for the star’s image-defying, dead-pan comic turn — “Garbo Laughs!” — as a Soviet emissary waylaid by romance in Paris thanks to Melvyn Douglas’ charming aristocrat, Ninotchka soars on equal parts dazzling wit and biting political satire, the latter largely supplied by co-screenwriters Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder, brought on by Lubitsch to punch up Walter Reisch’s initial draft.

DCP, b&w, 110 min. Director: Ernst Lubitsch. Screenwriters: Charles Brackett, Billy Wilder, Walter Reisch. With: Greta Garbo, Melvyn Douglas, Ina Claire.

Two-Faced Woman(1941)

Buoyed by Ninotchka’s success, MGM hoped to build on Greta Garbo’s new comic persona with this even frothier farce of domestic dalliance. With the sure hands of her Camille director and screwball master George Cukor at the helm, Garbo signed on to play a dual role as a spurned wife who plots to lure back her wandering husband (Melvyn Douglas) by masquerading as her racier “twin” sister. The risqué plot sparked controversy — at least with the Catholic Legion of Decency, which condemned the film — while critics largely panned Garbo’s sharper turn into broad comedy. While some have argued her experience on the film precipitated her later decision to retire, Two-Faced Woman shines in retrospect as further evidence of Garbo’s untapped potential as a comedienne.

35mm, b&w, 90 min. Director: George Cukor. Screenwriters: S. N. Behrman, Salka Viertel, George Oppenheimer. With: Greta Garbo, Melvyn Douglas, Constance Bennett. From the collection of the George Eastman Museum.


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