Silk Stockings

silkstockingsNina Yosjenko (Cyd Charisse), a super-strict Russian spy, is sent to Paris to convince a composer to go back home, but movie producer Steve Canfield (Fred Astaire) needs him and tries to charm the agent. Garbo classic Ninotchka (1939) gets its musical treatment, just like The Philadelphia Story was turned into High Society (1956). One of the last Astaire musicals but still great entertainment; there’s even a poignant song commenting on how audiences need to be lured back into cinemas with Technicolor, Cinemascope and stereophonic sound! Astaire may be aging, but he’s still in good shape, Peter Lorre and his pals provide comic relief and Charisse does her best Garbo imitation.

1957-U.S. 117 min. Color. Widescreen. Produced by Arthur Freed. Directed by Rouben Mamoulian. Screenplay: Leonard Gershe, Leonard Spigelgass. Songs: Cole Porter (“All of You”, “Siberia”, “Stereophonic Sound”). Cast: Fred Astaire (Steve Canfield), Cyd Charisse (Nina Yosjenko), Janis Paige (Peggy Dayton), Peter Lorre, George Tobias, Jules Munshin.

Trivia: The director’s last film. Charisse’s singing voice is done by Carole Richards.

Last word: “One thing I’ll always remember about ‘Silk Stockings’. On the day we began shooting, I went to my dressing room and there was a fabulous gift from Fred. He had sent me a cage full of the most beautiful finches, white ones with red beaks, representing the red theme of the movie. [Peter] Lorre was already a good friend of ours. He and Tony had worked together in ‘Casbah’ (1948) some years before. We had often visited him and his wife, the nurse he married when she helped him lick his drug problem in Europe. But, during the shooting of ‘Silk Stockings’, he was having troubles again. He was using pills in alarming numbers. It was very sad to watch his decline. We all knew he was very sick even then.” (Charisse, “The Two of Us”)

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