When you think of classic Christmas movie romances, you probably think of Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey offering to "Lasso the moon" for Mary in "It's a Wonderful Life." But the 1946 Frank Capra film isn't Stewart's only romantic holiday movie.
The 1940 MGM romantic comedy "The Shop Around the Corner" is Stewart's slightly lesser-known, but just as beloved, Christmas staple. Directed by Ernst Lubitsch and written by Samson Raphaelson, "The Shop Around the Corner" is based on the Hungarian play "Parfumerie" by Miklós László.
The film centers on Alfred Kralik (Stewart) and Klara Novak (Margaret Sullavan), two employees at Hugo Matuschek's gift shop in Budapest. Though Alfred and Klara clash in person, they're unknowingly falling in love as one another's anonymous pen pals.
"The Shop Around the Corner" is an early example of the enemies-to-lovers trope in romance cinema. The course of true love never did run smooth, and decades of rom-coms would replicate Alfred and Klara's initial, sizzling hostility to make their lovers' ultimate union even more sweet.
The '90s Rom-Com Remake
If the plot sounds familiar, that's because it was remade into the 1949 musical "In the Good Old Summertime," starring Judy Garland and Van Johnson, as well as the Nora Ephron classic "You've Got Mail," starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. While Joe Fox (Hanks) and Kathleen Kelly (Ryan) are bitter business rivals and not co-workers, the 1998 rom-com features several nods to "The Shop Around the Corner."
For starters, Kathleen's bookstore is actually called The Shop Around the Corner. And the scene in which Joe realizes Kelly is the woman he's been emailing? It replicates some of the dialogue from the first date scene in the 1940 flick — and gives a few zingers a modern-day update. Margaret Sullavan's "You little insignificant clerk" becomes Meg Ryan's "You're nothing but a suit."
"The Shop Around the Corner," also starring Frank Morgan (known for his role as the wizard in "Wizard of Oz"), Joseph Schildkraut, Felix Bressart, William Tracy, Sara Haden and Inez Courtney, was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.
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