The Shop Around the Corner (1940) – Ernst Lubitsch

Remade in 1998 as You’ve Got Mail, the original classic, The Shop Around the Corner, starring James Stewart and Margaret Sullivan is the next title on the What Else to Watch list following the recommendation from The Movie Book, available now from DK Canada, for the screening of To Be or Not To Be.

Stewart and Sullivan are Alfred Kralik and Klara Novak. Kralik is the most experienced salesman in the shop, and Klara is a new hire. From the off, the two hate one another.

Unfortunately, they are also in love with one another, as they are one another’s pen pals, exchanging anonymous letters with one another, sharing thoughts, stories and feelings.

Set in Hungary, Budapest, the majority of the story takes place within the confines of the shop, not a surprise, as the screenplay was based on a stage play by Miklos Laszlo. There is shop politics to be dealt with as the store owner, and manager, Mr. Matuschek (The Wizard of Oz’s Frank Morgan) learns that his wife is having an affair with one of his staff.

This drives Matuschek to jealousy and even a suicide attempt, which requires Kralik to take over as manager, all while still exchanging letters with Klara. He, and the charming Pirovitch (Felix Bressart) rumble Klara’s identity first, and from there, Kralik sees her in a whole different way.


There’s lots of business going on in the film, and this would be a true delight to see on the stage, as all of the characters have things to do, and interactions that shine.

I know You’ve Got Mail so well that I recognised all the beats. While everyone knows how the story has to play out, it has to come to a happy conclusion with the reveal of Kralik to Klara, it was fun to see just how many things changed as stayed the same in the story.

The stuff with Mtuschek, and the talkative, flashy and annoying Vadas (Joseph Schildkraut) were jettisoned in the update, and probably played very well on the stage, as they do in this version. It gives layers to the story. But honestly, you just want to see more banter and interaction with Stewart and Sullivan, something that was addressed in the update with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.

Stewart and Sullivan are charming, and the film is a gentle delight, set at Christmas, so I guess that would define it as a Christmas movie. Consider it a new favourite added to the list.

Once again, DK Books’ The Movie Book comes through with classic entertainment! Pick one up today, and find something amazing to watch as you discover classic cinema!



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s