The Shop Around the Corner (1940)


By Scott Ross

Ernst Lubitsch’s utterly charming romantic comedy, based on the same source material later used in the exquisite Bock and Harnick chamber musical She Loves Me and the recent Hanks-Ryan remake You’ve Got Mail. James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan are the lonely-hearts correspondents whose ardent mail-affair is offset by the fact they’re, unknowingly, co-workers who despise each other. With an elegant, pitch-perfect screenplay by frequent Lubitsch collaborator Samson Raphaelson and a splendid supporting cast that includes Frank Morgan, Joseph Schildkraut and Felix Bressart. The bittersweet aspects of this essentially sunny comedy include, for me, the knowledge that a) Hungary was then under a more fascist government than the movie suggests; and b) that the looming world war would irrevocably alter the Budapest in which the characters live and work, and probably see the deaths of many of them.

Text copyright 2013 by Scott Ross

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