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4.8 out of 5 stars
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on 20 October 2009
This well-crafted comedy in black and white doesn't waste a scene. Most of the action takes place in a shop in Budapest where the shopkeeper and his staff are all well drawn and played with gusto by the small cast. The scene where Margaret Sullivan sells the musical cigar box to the candy-loving lady is a masterclass in sales technique!

James Stewart and Margaret Sullivan maintain a comical dislike of one another at work after starting off on the wrong foot. In private they are each trying to better themselves by writing on cultural topics to an unknown person, each secretly falling in love with their anonymous correspondent. The viewer knows long before they do who their respective correspondents really are, but the comic and romantic aspects of their finding out are exploited to good effect. This theme was reused in the more recent You've Got Mail [DVD] [1999].

The other members of the cast have various romantic backgrounds -- the happily married man with children, the man who suspects is wife is having an affair, the spinster living with her mother, the man who is having an affair with a rich married woman, the ambitious boy (presumably ready to take out girls), and at the end the new young errand boy who is alone in the big city. The interaction of the two main characters plays out against this background to great effect, with the final scenes taking place in the run-up to Christmas.

A delightful film that will stand many viewings!

P.S. I've been waiting for many years for a UK PAL version of this film to be released on DVD, but I've finally settled for this Korean PAL version. The only set-back is that it plays with Korean subtitles by default, but it's easy to reset the subtitles or switch them off so no real problem.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on 15 August 2007
For those of you who do not know this movie, it is one of the most charming films ever made. It is the original on which You've got Mail, with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, is based.
Set in an indeterminate east European country, probably Hungary, James Stewart is superb in the role of a gift shop manager who is the "pen pal" of one of his own shop assistants, Margaret O'Sullivan, without either of them knowing this is the case. They dislike each other from the moment, she starts working there. Of course it all turns out well in the end and romance blossom's. The film has a wonderful script and there are fine performances from the whole cast, all of whom were "stock" actors of the period. They really do not make films like this any more!
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47 of 50 people found the following review helpful
This beautiful film really does deserve to be more widely known. It crops up very infrequently on the television now and its distribution on DVD and VHS in the UK has been very haphazard, which is a great shame.

Margaret Sullavan is in splendidly feisty form, and both she and James Stewart - as the principals in the romantic element of the plot - spark off each other wonderfully. Having said that, this is very much an ensemble piece and the remainder of the characters, down to the smallest role, are perfectly cast.

The romantic plotline formed the basis for 'You've Got Mail', with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, but that slick remake has none of the charm of this original. There really isn't a weak link in this film at all and it achieves all its effects with a simplicity and apparent effortlessness that seems to be lacking from mainstream Hollywood productions these days. It's one of my all-time favourite films. A touching and heart-warming comedy from the golden age of cinema, this film absolutely gets a five star recommendation.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 8 January 2010
There is long list of movies to watch around Christmas time. Everyone knows true classics such as; it's a wonderful life, Scrooge, Christmas carol, Miracle on 34th street, and many others. There are some movies not usually mentioned but must be called a Christmas classics, and this particular movie definitely makes that list. This is a beautiful love story set around Christmas time starring James Stewart and Margaret Sullivan.

Alfred Kralik (James Stewart) and Klara Novak (Margaret Sullivan) offer brilliant performances as two pen-pals who are in love but don't know that they are pen pals, in spite of the fact the two work in the same gift shop. The setting is simply great and very family oriented. This movie is set in Yuletide spirit with bells ringing, Christmas carols in the background, Christmas wreaths decorating the walls, homes, shops and buildings, and streets and neighborhoods covered with fresh snow. This movie was superbly directed by Ernst Lubitsch who made other classics such as; Angel (starring Marlene Dietrich), Ninotchka, and Heaven can wait (1943 version). Frank Morgan as Hugo Matuschek, the store owner has provided a splendid supporting role as store owner and very sensitive manager who respects the opinion of his employees and run the place a like a well knit family. Other workers include, the snippy errand boy, Pepi Katona (William Tracy), the caring and mild-mannered clerk, Pirovitch (Felix Bresssart), philandering Ferencz Vadas (Joseph Schildrakraut), and clerks Ilona (Sara Haden) and Flora.

Hugo Matuschek learns that his wife is having an affair and through a detective agency finds out that a store worker is the culprit. Thinking that Alfred is the guilty man he fires him. Later, when Hugo Matuschek learns that his wife is actually having an affair with Vadas, he despairs and tries to end his life, but is saved by Pepi Katona. Finally Alfred is re-hired as a store manager who fires Vadas, and rallies the store employees to make the biggest sale on Christmas Eve. Hugo Matuschek returns to a happy reunion and at last, the feuding Alfred and Klara become friends and she confides her love for him and he finally reveals himself as her secret lover. There is a fair amount of "Frank Capra dynamics" in the movie, at times it is very touching and the spirit of Christmas as envisioned by Charles Dickens flows through the mind and hearts of store workers, especially Alfred and Klara.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
This oh-so memorable diamond of enchanting romanticism was, I'm afraid spoiled by the DVD I'd bought, a Korean import. That's the only reason why I dropped it a star, otherwise it would have got a 6!

The panning shots shuddered and even snow looked odd as it fell. I emailed the seller who was very sympathetic and helpful and immediately sent a replacement, presuming the first to be faulty. I was so disappointed that the second played exactly the same.

We mutually concluded that my sensitivities to such might be more acute than most and I had, at least been re-united after many years with one of my favourite films, though I'd only seen it on TV once, at least 6 years before. Jimmy Stewart's measured but assured manner is both humbling and beguiling and the film's charm is unmatched but not at all treacly.

Though set at Christmas, it really can be enjoyed at any time of year partly because it doesn't cover any religious ground but more importantly, is such a rich, hot-chocolate fudge cake of a treat, it should be available on prescription.

Please, someone..re-release it, properly!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 3 September 2011
This is one of my all time favourite films. The acting is great, the story warm and witty, and it makes the re-make (You've Got Mail) look wooden and dull by comparison. If you enjoy nostalgic, feel-good films you will love this!
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Although it is widely said that "You've Got Mail" is based on this film really only the plot line of two persons communicating at a distance (in this case by letter) without knowing that they have met in reality is in common between the two films. The film is set in Budapest but there is no evidence (other than signage) of this but for the generally European atmosphere. The film is nonetheless a whimsical comedy full of "characters". The script is well written and it is the language rather than the action which makes the film delightful.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
This is the story of Matuschek and Company- -of Mr. Matuschek and the people who work for him. It is just around the corner from Andrassy Street- -on Balta Street, in Budapest, Hungary.

Klara Novak seeks work at Hugo Matuschek's Budapest store, after initially being turned down by head clerk Alfred Kralik, she gains employment after impressing the originally gruff Matuschek himself. This annoys Alfred and both he and Klara take an instant dislike to each other, completely unaware that they are both each others lonely hearts pen pal!.

Boy oh boy was this production in safe hands. Produced and directed by the fabulous Ernst Lubitsch {To Be Or Not To Be & Heaven Can Wait} and starring James Stewart {take your pick of many classics}, Margaret Sullavan {The Good Fairy & So Red the Rose} and Frank Morgan {The Wizard Of Oz}. Adapted by Samson Raphaelson from Miklós László's play {Parfumerie}, The Shop Around The Corner ranks up with the best of the romantic comedies from the classic era. Blending charm with community spirit, and dark moments with beams of light, it's a concocted remedy for the blues at a time when war was at the forefront of everyones minds.

Unashamedly sweet as it is, it's important to note the intricacies of the plot, with people being desperate for work, even forming rivalries within the confines of the shop, they even manage to flesh out an infidelity arc to really keep the viewer on their respective toes. All the efforts here are first class, Stewart gives the kind of performance that is often overlooked, no middle America Aww shucks on show here, it's precise and with feeling, this is a truly great Stewart performance. Sullavan is sadly something of a forgotten actress, and her films are so hard to find as well, it's a shame because she's right on the money and matches Stewart pound for pound in both humorous and emotive acting. Director Lubitsch once said that for human comedy he was never as on form as he was with The Shop Around The Corner, who wishes to argue with that? Because the evidence suggests he was right, and I can only add that The Shop Around The Corner is not merely just a romantic comedy, it's an experience all around the table; and then some. 9/10
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 4 January 2013
This is nothing short of a masterpiece. With Lubitsch at the height of his powers directing an impeccable cast led by Stewart and Sullavan, it is hard to imagine a more perfectly formed romantic comed. Far from an undiluted romp, it has a dark subplot which serves only to heighten the pleasure it affords. Every performance is a masterclass in delicacy and precision. Life-affirming, touching and uplifting, this film leaves the world a little kinder and more compassionate for having seen it. They don't come better than this.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 15 December 2012
This is one of the best films from a great era of film making. The comedy and romance are sweet and funny in turns but there is an edginess and honesty that can often be lacking in light, romantic comedy. The performances from the whole company are excellent. By the end of the film you feel you know them all. In fact I'm missing them right now. I think I'll just pop this DVD on again.

Also if, like me you are interested in costume, this film is a treat.
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