The Shop Around The Corner, Saturday at 9 p.m.
This 1940 romantic comedy was produced and directed by Ernst Lubitsch and stars James Steward, Margaret Sullavan, and Frank Morgan. The screenplay, written by Samson Raphaelson, is based on the 1937 Hungarian play Parfumerie by Miklós László
This may be the quintessential story about fear of commitment, in which two lovers are practically at the altar before they uncross their respective stars enough to connect on planet earth. They work together, sparring consistently, and only reveal their identities to each other in the last scene. The lovers are both clerks in a shop in Budapest in the 1930’s, writing letters to an unknown “dear friend.” Internet dating has nothing on this for mystery and romantic suspense, though the presence of deception and confusion crosses technological boundaries. And adds a measure of both tedium and humor.
The performances are fine, particularly that of Frank Morgan as Hugo Matuschek, but what suspense there is irritates as much as it titillates. Much of the acting and the dialog are dated. And the puerile, violent way our hero behaves in firing a cad just doesn’t play well in 2016. Humor, though, is provided by almost all, and often saves the film. The clerk who surreptitiously hightails it up the spiral stairs whenever the boss asks for an honest opinion is downright charming. All in all a good vehicle for Jimmy Stewart fans with a high tolerance for corn, popped or otherwise.
by Cicely d’Autremont
Hugo Matuschek, after Miss Novak sells one of the musical cigarette boxes: “Well, Mr. Kralik, what do you think now?” Alfred Kralik: “I think people who like to smoke candy and listen to cigarettes will love it.”
Pepi Katona: “Well Doctor, I would say it’s a nervous breakdown. What do you think?” Doctor: “It appears to be an acute epileptoid manifestation and a pan phobic melancholiac with indication of a neurasthenia cordus.” Pepi Katona: “Is that more expensive than a nervous breakdown?”
Klara Novak: “All my knowledge came from books, and I’d just finished a novel about a glamorous French actress from the Comedie Francaise. That’s the theater in France. When she wanted to arouse a man’s interest, she treated him like a dog.” Alfred Kralik: “Yes, well, you treated me like a dog.” Klara Novak: “Yes, but instead of licking my hand, you barked.”
Sources: IMDb, TCMDb, NY Times Movie Reviews, Wikipedia