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 Hollywood 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.
"Most romantic comedies obey the logic set down in The Shop Around the Corner. The path to true love must pass through conflict, hostility and misunderstanding," The New York Times journalist and cultural critic A.O. Scott says.
The '90s Rom-Com Remake
If the plot seems familiar, that's because it was remade into the 1949 musical In the Good Old Summertime, starring Judy Garland and Van Johnson, and 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 -- not co-workers, the 1998 rom-com features several nods to The Shop Around the Corner. Kathleen Kelly's bookstore is actually called The Shop Around the Corner and the scene in which Fox finds out Kelly is the woman he's been emailing features dialogue similar to the "first date" scene in 1940 flick. (Miklós László, the playwright of Parfumerie was given a screen credit for You've Got Mail.)
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.