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Silk Stockings 1957
Description: A musical makeover of Ninotchka: After three bumbling Soviet agents fail in their point to retrieve a straying Soviet composer from Paris, the beautiful, ultra-serious Ninotchka is sent to finished their point and to retrieve them. She begins out condemning the decadent West, but gradually falls under its spell, with the support of Steve Canfield, an American film producer.
Released: 18 Jul 1957 Director: Rouben Mamoulian Writers: Leonard Gershe (screenplay), Leonard Spigelgass (screenplay), Melchior Lengyel (suggested by "Ninotchka" by), George S. Kaufman (book), Leueen MacGrath (book), Abe Burrows (book) Actors: Fred Astaire, Cyd Charisse, Janis Paige, Peter Lorre Genres: Comedy, Musical, Romance
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See Stereophonic Sound !! on youtube.

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Silk Stockings Reviews:

There are a number of nice things about Silk Stockings, but there also is a professional finality about the film that makes it easier to observe than to be delighted by it. It was one of the last of the large MGM musicals coming from Arthur Freed's production unit. It was the last musical Fred Astaire made as the lead. It was the last movie directed by Rouben Mamoulian. It was based on the last Broadway musical Cole Porter wrote. Silk Stockings also was used to create a statement about the excesses some thought were crashing movies and music...the advent of rock and roll and the technological changes in movies with wide screen and stereo sound. It even takes a crack at the fashion for ballet in many musicals. You've got to be very intelligent and original to successfully parody things which are already self-parodies. Silk Stockings, even with its many entertaining moments, isn't that clever. The storyline is based on Ninotchka, the female Soviet commissar who comes to Paris and finds romance reluctantly...and then enthusiastically. Paris is presented as a zone where decadence was never more innocent and persuasive. One of the things that seems so odd is that, for a Fred Astaire film, Astaire spends a nice deal of time doing knee drops, full-length on-the-floor sprawls and athletic dance moves that limit the sophisticated and smooth Astaire style. He was 59 when he made the picture, and this might explain the relative shortness of some of the sequences. Still, while he is assured and immensely watchable (and while he can still do wonders with a cane), three major dance productions he is in just seem choppy. Most of the songs from the Broadway present were retained and Porter wrote a couple of fresh ones. It's become routine with Porter to tell that whatever his recent present was, the score was never one of his best. In this case, it's true. The romantic songs are great, but the topical specialty numbers just seem tired. Siberia and The Ritz Roll and Rock in particular miss the mark, in my opinion.Astaire, as always, is first class. Charisse is simple to look at and a fine dancer. George Tobias, as a commissar in Moscow and Ninotchka's boss, gives a sly and dead-pan performance. Some of Porter's songs are very good. Mamoulian brought the movie in on time and under budget. And Silk Stockings was a success with ticket buyers.


Fred Astaire has everytime been a performer who's work is very close to my heart. The last true Fred Astaire film (excluding his geriatric non-singing, non-dancing or non-starring roles) is 1957's "Silk Stockings".I was a tiny scared 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 films even at that age ("the Bandwagon", "Daddy Long Legs"), but I knew it was Fred's last, and I didn't wish to know why. Actually I know what a pleasure I was depriving myself of."Silk Stockings" is a musical makeover 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 melody for a weak brow film musical. The director of this movie, played by Fred Astaire, distracts the cute 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 film was produced at the height of the cold war, and the height of Hollywood blacklisting, and it's commie-bashing should create some uncomfortable. To me, those jokes are anything but propaganda. The cultural stereotypes are played for laughs, and could be taken with a grain of salt. Of course, I'm a large fanatic of the top hat and tails ritzy romantic culture that Astaire's hero teaches Charisse's hero the joys of, so it's simple 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. In fact, this was towards the end of the film musical as America knew it.Rock and Roll was taking over. To me, the most moving moments in this film 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 unique material just for this movie. One highlight is a tune named "Stereophonic Sound". In it, the singer quips about how moviegoers used to be content to see talented performers do their thing, and a great love story, but these days all they wish 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 nice hoofer in tails is not enough, they wish 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 fresh melody named 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 large 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 lords abdicated their thrones to... well... the King, I suppose.Anyway, if you're a Fred-head like me, and you're scared to see Fred's final fling, "Silk Stockings", don't be. You'll be reminded why he and his period of Hollywood was great.


Cyd Charisse, along with Vera-Ellen and Ann Miller, was one of the premier dancing stars of the 1940's and 1950's...Known for her cool sex appeal, Cyd Charisse has a pretty face, a excellent figure, and a thrilling musicality... She is the American cinema's lyrical dancing beauty with a lovely flow of movements and crystalline footwork, a premium to any film, a compliment of any arm, a real gem... The sensitivity and eloquence of hero she projects as a dancer found nice echo in her roles as an acclaimed ballerina capable of expressing herself to the whole audience with a flick of the wrist, tapering her high extensions into a musical phrase like a painter controlling a fine sable brush...When she danced 'La Bamba' and 'Flaming Flamenco' with Ricardo Montalban in Richard Thorpe's "Fiesta," she excelled in technical dynamics... But in 'Broadway Rhythm Ballet,' number from "Singin' in the Rain," Stanley Donen's camera followed the leg up to the figure of a seductive Dancer, a gangster's moll: Charisse was beautiful, bewitching exotic nightclub performer and town vamp, teasing Gene Kelly by balancing his straw hat on the end of her foot, and leaving us all breathless...In 'Silk Stockings' she is a humorless, unromantic and cold, a seriously-austere Russian envoy who is sent from Moscow to check three Russian emissaries who, in turn, have orders to bring back with them a Soviet composer about to lend his talents to an American film producer...A 'beautiful dynamite,' Charisse warms to the appeal of romance, and Fred Astaire, to luxury, jazz, and French champagne... The chemistry was there when they danced the 'Paris Loves Lovers,' number in which the suave Astaire awakens her interest in life and the Town of lights, but in the game song where she throws off her cold uniform for her first fine pair of silk stockings and laces, Charisse, (the very serious and dedicated Ninotchka), turns into an explosion of talent and glamor, with the qualities of a scintillating star, radiantly charming and sweet, filling the screen with bravura, energy and spark... Peter Lorre, Jules Munshin and Joseph Buloff are the three Kremlin agents, the trio of 'clowns' who become fond of freedom and the pleasures of Paris...Janis Paige is delightfully amusing as the temperamental film star for whom producer Astaire was preparing a musical about Napoleon and Josephine... 'Silk Stockings' has definite virtues, the foremost being Fred Astaire... Although worried about being ageless for the role, Astaire sings 'All of You' to Charisse with all of his old ardent feelings, dances beautifully with her in a deserted film studio to 'Fated to Be Mated,' and joins Janis Paige, testing 'America's Swimming Sweetheart,' in Cole Porter's delightful 'Stereophonic Sound.' His solo to 'The Ritz Roll 'n' Rock,' in which he wears his trademarked top hat and tails, is a proof of his grace, sophistication and talent... For all its merits, Mamoulian's 'Silk Stockings' has a degree of elegance and sophistication, but mostly a sweet sadness, the end of a living legend, in which Fred Astaire appears in his last nice musical role...



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