Sunday, April 22, 2007

My New Christmas Movie

I'd heard of the movie The Shop Around the Corner (1940) with the release of the remake, You've Got Mail (1998). I finally got to see the earlier version and - again - I have to wonder why I had to wait so long to discover it. It's based on a play by Miklós László and directed by Ernst Lubitsch. It was also remade in 1949 as the musical In the Good Old Summertime.

The setting is Budapest, most of it just before Christmas, but it doesn't feel kitchified as so often happens with quaint European settings in Hollywood movies (foreign stereo-types are the subject of my next post). Frank Morgan is in it, just a year after he appeared as the Wizard of Oz. He plays the owner of a successful leather-goods shop, with a staff of six. What a lovely store to work in! They don't seem to have much to do except re-arrange wallets and dust briefcases. The supporting cast are interesting and so well-developed. The squabbling between our hero, James Stewart, and our heroine, Maureen Sullavan, is destined to melt into love and it all comes to a delicious climax on Christmas Eve. I think this is my new Christmas must-watch movie.


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