As the pandemic rages on, sometimes the smallest pleasures can produce the biggest thrills. For example, the recently reopened Chicago Public Library has been an oasis for me, allowing me to check out a variety of classic films from the ’30s and ’40s, the celluloid eras that bring me the most joy, as of late.
A few weeks ago, I was happy to find 1939’s Ninotchka, the film that gave the usually regal Greta Garbo a chance to let loose and convulse with laughter due to the smart joys of the irreplaceable Billy Wilder’s script.
Layered with an expected sense of sly, often infectious humor, this classic film’s biggest surprise for me wound up being the presence of horror legend Bela Lugosi. Playing the commanding officer of Garbo’s loyal Russian ambassador, the two share a very fun scene towards the film’s end, resulting in a magical moment for those who are fans of all kinds of cinema. Showing that he was capable of subtle theatrics and able to stretch his skills far beyond the mysterious creatures and mad scientists that he was usually asked to play, Lugosi, in particular, shines here with a sense of authority and truth.
Admirers of his work (and of Garbo’s undiminished power) may do well to track this gem down. Its a sure way to ease those lingering stay-at-home blues for an hour or two.
Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!