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Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Shop Around the Corner (1940)

This movie, unbeknownst to me, was remade in a late 20th century setting in the very familiar 'You've Got Mail'.  It is one of Ernst Lubitsch's later romantic comedies with a script by his oft collaborator, Samuel Raphaelson, and it is well worth tracking down. 

Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullivan have been corresponding anonymously with each other.  The thing that is funny about this is that it is an all too common way for people to meet these days, only they do not use the postal service to find each other.  They adore each other on paper, but in person they fight like cats and dogs.  They got off on the wrong foot with each other, and it takes the whole movie for them to come around to seeing each other in the light that their letters afforded them.  The setting is a Budapest gift shop, and it feels very much like a play that has been made into a movie, with the action taking place largely in one place--which is in fact it's history--it was written from a  Hungarian play, and Lubitsch chose to leave it where it was.  No wonder he was so popular with the Europeans.  He used cities and setting that were familiar to him, and he may have introduced a movie set facsimile of these famous cities to an American audience as well.  It is a fine performance by Jimmy Stewart and worth seeing for that alone.

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