Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Shop Around the Corner (1940)



“Oh, my Dear Friend, my heart was trembling as I walked into the post office, and there you were, lying in Box 237. I took you out of your envelope and read you, read you right there.”

            In the world we live in today it is very easy to pour your heart out to someone you do not know. We run blogs, Tumblrs, Twitters, Facebooks, and other social media sites. We become “friends” we do not even know but we connect with on a level. In our lives we can feel all alone but on our blogs or whatever we have we can connect to people who have the same interests and passions as we do. We want to be able to talk about movie characters or actors as if we know them personally, we want to talk about our favorite music, movies, books, historical events,  superheroes, shoes, clothes, designers, celebrities, etc. we people who are just as passionate as we are. I think especially we want to know we are not alone in the world in what we like there are others out there just as obsessed and interested.
            In the 1940 film The Shop Around the Corner the two main characters connect to someone they do not know through writing letters (remember when we used to do that?!) to someone. They connect to each other intellectually and spiritually. They pour their hopes, fears, and love to each other.
            The film begins with a young woman walking to a mailbox and through a voiceover we hear what she has written to someone about reading their letters and what they mean to her.
            In town employees for a department store are waiting for the owner Mr. Matuschek (Frank Morgan) to open the store. While waiting Alfred Kralik (James Stewart) his letter from a woman he has been writing. He began writing her after he found an ad she had placed looking for someone to talk to. So far Alfred has gotten four letters from her.
            A young woman named Klara Novak (Margaret Sullavan) comes into the store looking for a job. She really needs one. Alfred thought she needed help as a customer and as soon as he starts talking to her she does not leave him alone. Matuschek comes out from his office. He hears Alfred tell Klara that he (Matuschek) is too busy to come out and talk to her. Matuschek hears Klara selling a cigarette box that plays music whenever it is open. Klara tells the customer the box is a bargain when she is really selling it for three dollars more than it really is. The customer leaves the with the box.
            After a few months Klara and Alfred cannot stand each other. In the mean time Alfred has been sending and receiving letters from the girl he has been writing. He tells his friend at the store that he is thinking about meeting the girl and asking her to marry him. Alfred writes to meet with her and they are supposed to meet later that night. Klara talks to one of the other female employees and says that she has a date that night as well. Unfortunately Matuschek makes everyone stay late because of a poorly dressed window. Alfred has been upset with Matuschek for the past few weeks because the boss has not acknowledged him in any way and the ignoring is bothering him. Alfred talks to Matuschek who is not very nice to him and with this Alfred decides to leave the store. Alfred does not plan on going on his date until his friend talks him into it. Klara is beyond thrilled Matuschek is now sending them home early.
            When everyone leaves a man comes into the store to speak to Matuschek. The man is a private detective who has been watching Mrs. Matuschek. He reports that Mrs. Matuschek was seen with another man a younger man and he is one of the employees at the store. The man’s name is Pirovitch. Matuschek is shocked to hear the name because all this time he believed Alfred was the one going around with his wife because he had been to his house before.
            Alfred has his friend come along on the date. He has his friend look into the café to tell him what the girl looks like. He tells Alfred the girl is Klara from the store. Alfred does not want to go in there and tell her he is the one she has been writing because the two of them have been fighting in the store for the past six months. He goes in but he does not tell Klara he is supposed to be her date. Klara is not happy to see Alfred but he keeps talking to her despite her telling him to go away.
            Matuschek has a breakdown. He was about to kill himself in the store when the delivery boy Pepi stopped him. Matuschek is brought to the hospital. He has Alfred come to explain what had happened. He wants Alfred to come back to be the manager and to fire Pirovitch for what he did. Matuschek has Alfred give himself a much deserved raise.
            Klara is out sick for a few days. When she comes back Alfred is the manager and she thinks it is a joke. She collapses and Alfred brings her home. He finds out she is heartbroken over not having received any letters from her friend in some time. Klara’s aunt comes into the room with a letter. Klara is beyond thrilled and feeling much better. She tells Alfred she will be at work the following day and maybe she will buy the cigarette box for her friend. He tries to talk her out of the box and into getting her friend a wallet so he can have her photo on one side and her letter on the other side.
            The following night Alfred plays with Klara’s head by saying he met the guy she has been writing he had been in the store looking for her. He makes the guy sound terrible and not at all the man she has been writing. He is really making himself look better. Klara is all confused with what Alfred is saying and doing. Finally he reveals he is the one Klara has fallen in love with when he recites a line from one of his letters to her.
            I absolutely loved Margaret Sullavan and James Stewart together in this film. I loved them both individually. Sullavan was adorable. I have only seen her in serious roles before this. She was sweet and adorable and funny. Stewart I am not a huge fan of I normally cannot take him in films but I found myself really liking him in this he was not annoying. You can tell by watching Sullavan and Stewart together that they were great friends they had wonderful chemistry together. Their chemistry was not sexual it was actually love you can see their characters loved each other.
            Ernst Lubitsch directed the film and Samson Raphaelson wrote the story. It is a very touching and sweet story. You can see the care Lubitsch put into directing this. His direction is light and sentimental.

            The Shop Around the Corner is a story I think we all yearn for in our lives. We all long to connect to someone who loves us. We want that stimulating, intellectual, caring connection. We want to be like the simple characters of Klara Novak and Alfred Kralik. Their love and relationship was simple and sweet there was nothing romantic or unrealistic about it. Their love was not impossible. I adored The Shop Around the Corner and everything about from beginning to end. I absolutely, highly suggest seeing The Shop Around the Corner is brilliant and fantastic and makes you hope one day to find your Alfred Kralik or Klara Novak just like they found each other.