Monday, 20 December 2010

The Shop Around The Corner (1940)

Brrrrr. It's so cold here! I'm starting to rekindle my love affair with snow today after it stopped me traveling to a wedding and various family gatherings yesterday. I have had some comments about my snow, and the general consensus is that there has been lots of it. Please be a white Christmas! I've never seen one in England before. I just remembered that The Shop Around The Corner (starring James Stewart and Margaret Sullivan) was a Christmas film! So I thought it would be nice to review.

The Shop Around The Corner

The Plot:
Klara Novak and Alfred Kralik work together the fine goods shop, "Matuschek and Company". They don't get along. They are complete opposites who are constantly disagreeing with one another. What they don't know is that they are also sending each other anonymous letters to an unknown "pen friend", each writing to the other without realizing. They fall in love through these letters, and arrange to meet at a restaurant each wearing a red flower. She will be reading a book that he has instructed her to read, and they will recognize each other by these things. Kralik has just been fired for no clear reason from Matuschek and Company and takes his best friend and colleague Pirovitch to walk with him to meet Klara. Too nervous to look for her, he asks Pirovitch to do it for him. His reply is "Oh she's pretty. Very pretty... In fact she bears an uncanny resemblance to our Klara." Realizing what has happened, Pirovitch turns to Kralik and says, "Well, you know Kralik, Klara's a very pretty girl, and a very good person -" Growing impatient, Kralik replies with "I don't want to talk about Klara." "What? You don't like Klara? The  you will definitely not like this girl, because this girl IS Klara!" Another story running alongside this one, is Matsuchek's suspicion of his wife having an affair with Kralik (for people who don't want to feel depressed by this, it is actually Kralik's evil colleague Vadas), which adds another layer of interest to the plot...

The Review:
I think that the plot for this film is really good. I like the twists and turns which are directed amazingly by Ernst Lubitsch. It doesn't get too serious though, because there is always Matsuchek's wise-cracking errand boy Pepi making everyone laugh. James Stewart is amazing yet again. I swear that there is nothing that man can't do. He's solved murders from his flat in a wheelchair; he's found his missing child in a strange country and almost won Katharine Hepburn over from Cary Grant. Lets face it, he is seriously awesome. Margaret Sullivan is good too, but all the time I watch I am wishing Klara was played by Irene Dunne. It would have been her birthday today so, happy birthday!

Just had to post this GIF with this quote from Singnin' In The Rain.
Kathy: “Oh, no offense. Movies are entertaining enough for the masses but the personalities on the screen just don’t impress me. I mean they don’t talk, they don’t act, the just make a lot of dumb show. Well, you know. Like that.”
I also found some cool "Now that's classic" TCM photos on Tumblr. I don't know who made them/scanned them, but they sure are great! (If you made them and have a problem with them being on my blog, post so in a comment and I will take them down.)

P.S. The results came in a while ago from my "Favourite Cary Grant Film" poll. They are:
North By Northwest: 7 votes (1st place)
The Holiday (Holiday?) and Bringning Up Baby: 4 votes each (2nd place)
Arsenic And Old Lace: 2 votes (3rd place)
To Catch A Theif and My Favourite Wife: 1 vote each (4th place)


Java Bean Rush said...

Welcome to the Classic Movies Blog Association, Bette!
Great blog.
-- Java

VP81955 said...

Intriguing thought, subbing Irene Dunne for Margaret Sullavan -- and though I respect Irene, she might have been a bit too long in the tooth to portray Klara.

Am a bit surprised you didn't mention Frank Morgan; he was a splendid character actor who enlivened many a film. He may be best known for "The Wizard Of Oz," but to my mind, this was his finest hour, a wonderfully textured performance.

Glad to have you in CMBA!

Bette said...

Oh my goodness!!! I forgot FRANK MORGAN!!!! He is also amazing in this film and definitely deserved a mention. Thanks for reminding me. I don't know how it escaped this post, I must have been too wrapped up in Jimmy Stewart's performance, but it wouldn't have been as good without Frank Morgan Io play opposite him.


Reel Popcorn Junkie said...

Shop offers several different takes on love - its pursuit, contentment with a family and dissolution because of infidelity.

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