Publication Details

Cockburn, J. P., The ''hat'' and the mechanical-flaneuse in Ernst Lubitsch''s Ninotchka (1939)", Cultural Studies Association of Australia Annual Conference, 1999.


This article addresses the ‘hat’ scene in Ninotchka (1939), a feature film directed and produced by Ernst Lubitsch for MGM in Hollywood. Central to discussion is the main character, Ninotchka, a Soviet female ‘envoy extraordinary’ played by Greta Garbo. In the film, Ninotchka embodies the ‘new’ woman, but one enacting in a revised form of flânerie that is restructured and disciplined to accommodate Taylorism and Fordism. To help describe this persona, the article constructs a term, the ‘mechanical-flâneuse’ (Cockburn 1999), that refers to the 1930s ‘new’ woman as exemplified by Ninotchka, who combined flânerie with efficiency. The article concludes with questions to assist further development of the term ‘mechanical-flâneuse’.