Time: 102 mins.
Rating: Not Rated
While Garland and Johnson make an intriguing couple, this story doesn't give them much fodder to form a warm romantic connection, which is something of a problem for a musical based on finding your one perfect love. Of course, before they can live happily ever after they have to fight to be together...or in this case just bicker endlessly until they discover their true feelings. Besides casting, the only aspects that are different about this remake of THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER is that this version is in color and it incorporates musical numbers into the story. Can't employ one of the best cinema voices and not give her some tunes to sing. For those unfamiliar with the plot, Garland and Johnson play music store employees who loathe one another while on the job, but are also unknowingly in love with each other through the mail. Their correspondence precedes their actual meeting and since the letter writing is anonymous it began because of a personal ad they put their best feet forward for their secret loves.
Nothing compares to the sheer pleasure of this paper union, leaving them blind to the opportunities right under their noses. It's as contrived as a film can possibly be and the only reason it works at all is the pure talent of its' leads. The peppy tunes don't hurt either. The music and colorful art direction help to give the film a sense of fun and vitality the 1940 version lacks. The main trouble with this rendition is they've made Garland's character so caustic and haughty it's hard to believe that Johnson would continue to pursue her once he realizes who she is. A good letter sure carried a lot of weight in those days. It's nice to see Garland given the opportunity to stretch and play a more adult role, this just isn't a very attractive direction for her to go in. Those who like musical comedies will be entertained enough, but this is far from the best film in either Garland or Johnson's repertoires.