Tuesday, December 14, 2010

HOLIDAY MOVIE REVIEW: The Shop Around The Corner (1940)

'The Shop Around The Corner' is set at Matuschek's, a little shop in Budapest. Alfred Kralik, the clerk and Clara, the newly hired sales girl don't at all get along in real life but unknowingly fall in love with each other through anonymous correspondence.

'You've Got Mail' was based around this movie, and the basic idea of the two is of course the same, but while the newer movie has the added drama of a big corporation attempting to takeover smalltown America, 'The Shop Around The Corner' has a more intimate, down-to-earth setting.

The characters are charming and the interaction between Mr Matuschek and his staff is realistic and lends itself to a lot of subtle but laugh out loud jokes that anyone who's worked in retail will certainly relate to. The writing is great, with the obvious plot twist being revealed earlier on so that the film can focus on how Alfred and Clara deal with the outcome and whether or not they can get over their initial dislike of each other and see the person they fell for through their letters.

I think what makes 'The Shop Around The Corner' so great is the chemistry between awkward everyman James Stewart and uptight and intellectual Margaret O'Sullavan. Their arguments are feisty but not overblown, and whenever they are on screen together you can't wait to see the sparks fly.

The supporting cast, including the precocious delivery boy Pepi and highly-strung Pirovitch are also excellent and really brings the atmosphere of the store to life, adding to the charm of this delightful romantic comedy. While so many other films in this genre struggle to combine the heartwarming with the hilarious, this one does so effortlessly and is extremely enjoyable as a result.

With it's emotional climax taking place on Christmas Eve, this is the perfect movie to get any classic cinema lover in the mood for the upcoming holidays.

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