The Shop Around the Corner - 1940

The Shop Around the Corner - Released January 12, 1940. Directed by Ernst Lubitsch

Margaret Sullavan (as Klara Novak) has a pen-pal lover she has never laid eyes on, and her hope that this inky romance will turn into something in the flesh keeps her loneliness and fear of spinsterhood at bay.

Meanwhile, she is monumentally annoyed with her supervisor at the gift shop where she works (Matuschek and Company). The annoying boss is Alfred Kralik (played by Jimmy Stewart), and store gossip is that he is bow-legged under his long trousers, and besides that, Klara finds his ideas for running the store noxious and his manner insulting. The two quibble about nearly everything and given an opportunity alone to have a conversation, it quickly boils over into an argument.

Alfred is, of course, as this is a Lubitsch film about irony, Klara's secret pen-pal lover, only she doesn't know it (nor does he, though he figures it out before she does, and that completely changes his opinion of her - - prior to that revelation, he thought she was rather annoying, too).

With the scales off Alfred's eyes, he suddenly realizes that the girl he disliked so much is instead the ravishing creature he imagined from their letter-exchanges. But that presents a new problem, he is going to have to kill the pen-pal image he has been describing of himself in his letters to her (he exaggerated quite a bit) and he's got to then turn Klara's affections onto the 'real' him: Alfred Kralik, the one man she loathes the most in all of snowy Budapest.

The Shop Around the Corner is a Christmas movie about true love amid the arguing, the desire for family life, the value of friendship, and the problems of being alone in a big city. This makes the movie seem like a bright story with a funny but simplistic love story, but around the periphery is a darkness where we are shown the consequences of adultery and betrayal, the cruelty of gossip, and a suicide attempt, and still through it all still remains a comedy.

A different review of Shop Around the Corner

Another Lubtisch film: Trouble in Paradise (1932)

The Shop Around the Corner - Released January 12, 1940. Directed by Ernst Lubitsch

Other Christmas film reviews:

The Shop Around the Corner - 1940

Ernest Saves Christmas - 1988

Holiday Inn - 1942

The Man Who Came to Dinner - 1942

Meet John Doe - 1941

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Original Page April 2013 | Updated Dec 2015 +