The Shop Around the Corner

Rating: 4/4 (A romantic comedy gem starring James Stewart)

I had to watch The Shop Around the Corner, after friend Haas pointed out that it was the plot inspiration for You’ve Got Mail, one of my favorite romantic comedies. The original is a real oldie, from 1940, starring James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan. The story is set in Matuschek & Co., a shop that sells leather goods, where Kralik (James Stewart) is head salesman and Klara (Margaret Sullavan) joins as a junior saleswoman. From the very beginning, they have a spiteful relationship with each other, spewing fire whenever possible. They are both in love with an anonymous pen pal each, with whom they exchange letters using a postbox at the post office. But, they do not know that they are writing letters to each other. Kralik discovers this first when they decide to meet up at a cafe. He is not able to reveal his true identity right then, but has to play along to make himself more loveable in Klara’s eyes so they can profess their love for each other.

[ Klara looks sadly at her empty postbox. ]

The Shop Around the Corner is a real gem, the plot is simple and tight and the acting is excellent. Not just James Stewart, who always delivers and Sullavan, but all the supporting cast leave their mark on the viewer. There is good natured humour all through the movie. The dialogues are especially endearing, with perfect English of a time long gone now. You’ve Got Mail has paid homage to this original in its cafe scene. The setting and dialogues of that scene are a perfect copy of the same in this movie! The Shop Around the Corner is a good old romantic comedy gem that should not be missed.

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