Monday, September 5, 2011

The Shop Around the Corner (1940)

The Shop Around the Corner is wonderful enough as a funny romance about two people who fall in love through their anonymous pen pal letters to each other while unable to stand each other in person. What makes it more than wonderful is that it is also a story about the shop in which they work.  I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the scenes that had nothing to do with the question of "when will they get together?"  While rooting for Klara Novak and Alfred Kralik (Margaret Sullavan and Jimmy Stewart) to realize what is happening to them, we also get to follow Kralik's friendships and the ups and downs of Mr. Matuschek's (Frank Morgan's) store. 
This is a movie of great dialogue:

Alfred Kralik: [asking co-worker Pirovitch about cost of living for a married couple] Suppose a fellow gets an apartment with three rooms. Dining room, bedroom, living room.
Pirovitch: What do you need three rooms for? You live in the bedroom.
Alfred Kralik: Where do you eat?
Pirovitch: In the kitchen. You get a nice big kitchen.
Alfred Kralik: Where do you entertain?
Pirovitch: Entertain? What are you, an embassador? Who do you want to entertain? Listen listen, if someone is really your friend, he comes after dinner.
And then of course there is the dialogue between Klara and Alfred, who are just so stubborn and determined to be mean to each other.
Alfred Kralik: Are you disappointed?
Klara Novak : Psychologically, I'm very confused... But personally, I don't feel bad at all.

Four really big stars. To be watched again.


mismo said...

You've Got Mail?

Jessica said...

I like that one, too.

ChandlerSwain said...

The richness of the background is certainly a strength in this kind of film, though not often recognized as you have. It's what distinguished many a British romantic comedy as well- that complete synthesis of a living, breathing, larger world surrounding the central characters.

Unknown said...

It's awful to admit it, but I actually do prefer You've Got Mail, much as i love JS and am slightly perturbed by Meg Ryan. I love its evocation of New York., which even if not quite honest, is still true

Jessica said...

I do love You've Got Mail. Not ashamed to admit that I've seen it four times!

mismo said...

Then there was "In the Good Old Summertime" (1949) with Garland & van Johnson. Cheerier, less edgy. Also, saw recently on cable/stream, "She Loves Me" (original 1963) set in Paris and based on the original Perfume Shop from 1920's. Clearly an enduring entertainment.