Jimmy Stewart — The Shop Around the Corner – Black & White – 1940
It’s the Christmas season and the shop on the corner is having a sale. Alfred Kralik (James Stewart) is the store’s top salesman and a kind of underboss to Hugo Matuschek (Frank Morgan). There is rivalry and tension among the employees at the shop and Mr. Matuschek is not the easiest employer to get along with. Enter Klara Novak (Margaret Sullavan), timidly asking for a job. Over Kralik’s (Stewart’s) objections, she is hired. This starts Stewart and Sullavan off on the wrong foot and their animosity escalates to where they dislike each other intensely.
Stewart can’t help comparing her to this highly educated, cultured woman he corresponds with. But he’s never even seen a picture of her. He discusses his pen-pal sweetheart and the problem of what she might look like with his co-worker and friend, Pirovitch (Felix Bressart), and his nervousness about meeting her. He tells the man about how far the letters have advanced in the romance department.
Stewart — We got on the subject of love, Naturally on a very cultural level.
Pirovitch – Naturally. What else can you do in a letter?
He and she correspond with each other and make a date to meet at a restaurant nearby. It happens that Sullavan also has a date on the same night and they both can’t have the night off from the shop, which starts a terrible argument. Sullavan’s date, whom she corresponds with, is the perfect gentleman, and she can’t help comparing him to her unchivalrous and inconsiderate boss (Stewart).
Wikipedia — The Shop Around the Corner is ranked #28 on AFI’s 100 Years… 100 Passions, and is listed in Time’s All-Time 100 Movies. In 1999, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant. —
Based on a 1937 Hungarian play, the setting for the movie is Budapest. I suggest you not watch the official trailer. It’s so boring it’ll put you sleep in no time flat and put you off this wonderful movie forever. Give it a chance. The dialogue alone is worth the watch, much less the treat of seeing Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullavan in action. And if you think the store owner, Mr. Matuschek, looks familiar, you’re right. Frank Morgan is the magician, and Great and Powerful Oz of “The Wizard of Oz”.