The Shop Around The Corner (1940)

The Shop Around The Corner (1940)

Static Mass Rating: 5/5

Release Date: December 10th 2010
Certificate: U
Running Time: 98 minutes

Director: Ernst Lubitsch

Cast: Margaret Sullavan, James Stewart


Based on the 1937 Hungarian play Parfumerie, The Shop Around The Corner is set around Christmas time in pre-war Budapest where co-workers Klara Novak (Margaret Sullavan) and Alfred Kralik (James Stewart) just can’t seem to get along. Outside of work the pair enjoy a pen-pal relationship but don’t realise it’s with each other!

Hailed as a classic and persevered by the Library of Congress as one of the films which are “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”, The Shop Around The Corner represents an era in cinema when stars like James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan shone because of their charisma and chemistry and because the dialogue sparkled.

This is especially true of The Shop Around The Corner. Director Ernst Lubitsch was so set on having James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan as his stars that he delayed filming until they were both available to do the movie. Cary Grant or Gary Cooper might have been good choices for Alfred, but the character needed to express a certain insecurity and anxiety which Stewart does so well. As for Klara, the role called for an actress who could antagonise her leading man in the most charming way, one could think of Judy Holliday in such a role, but it would have been far too obvious. Sullavan plays it in just the right amounts especially in the scene where she tries to take a night off by sweet-talking her not-too-impressed co-worker and boss!

1998’s remake starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan sought to capitalise on the email phenomenon which was just starting to take off, though the film’s success could not wipe away the magic of its predecessor.

Born in Berlin, Lubitsch recalled his experiences working in his father’s clothing shop when he was a young boy. When the film premiered at Radio City Music Hall on January 25, 1940, he said:

“I have known just such a little shop in Budapest…The feeling between the boss and those who work for him is pretty much the same the world over, it seems to me. Everyone is afraid of losing his job and everyone knows how little human worries can affect his job. If the boss has a touch of dyspepsia, better be careful not to step on his toes; when things have gone well with him, the whole staff reflects his good humour.”

The Shop Around The Corner

The Shop Around The Corner returns to the big screen this Christmas. You can see it at the BFI Southbank in London from 10th December to 30th December.

Let's talk... » Add your comment!

  1. Thanks, you just reminded me that I’ve been meaning to see this movie for ages!

Leave Your Reply

Required fields are marked *. Your details will never be shared.