|THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER (1940)|
|"Oh, my Dear Friend, my heart was trembling as I walked into the post office, and there you were, lying in Box 237. I took you out of your envelope and read you, read you right there."|
|Time: 97 mins.|
Rating: Not Rated
Jimmy Stewart is the only reason to see THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER. It's not his best performance, however it does show his potential not only as a great leading man, but as a brilliant actor. THE SHOP is a mish mash of romance, comedy and drama that just doesn't quite come coherently together. Though if you love Jimmy you won't care. He has some charisma with leading lady Margaret Sullavan, but they just aren't given enough screen time together to make their inevitable union all that powerful. The film begins with Alfred (Stewart) waxing on to a co-worker about this absolutely lovely creature he's recently begun corresponding with through the mail. She's exactly the kind of woman he's looking for, except that he doesn't really know a thing about her. His first encounter with Klara (Sullavan) is not a wholly pleasant one. He initially tries to sell her something, but she's not interested in purchasing...she wants a job. Wouldn't you know it, she also has a pen pal that's just making her head swoon. Alfred tries to brush her off, but his boss, Mr. Matuschek, hires her after watching her sell a music box Alfred is convinced is all wrong for the shop. She is then put under his tutelage which rubs them both the wrong way.
The film then jumps 6 months ahead. They are now bitter enemies, detesting every moment they are forced to spend together. To make matters worse for Alfred, he can't seem to do anything right where his boss is concerned. Things come to a head when Klara tries to flirt her way out of working for the evening. She has a date with her mystery man, she just can't miss. Stewart also wants the evening off, to finally meet his pen pal, which sends Mr. Matuschek right over the edge. After an argument with Matuschek, Stewart is forced to resign, sending his co-workers into a tizzy. Though he has nothing to offer, Alfred goes to meet his pen pal anyway. To his surprise it turns out to be Klara, the last person on earth he expected. He tries to engage her in conversation, but she reads him up one side and down the other. She's meeting a man so wonderful, as to make a lowly shop clerk like him insignificant. He leaves completely defeated. Klara is devastated as well when the man of her dreams doesn't show. Now that he knows the woman of his dreams is right under his nose, Alfred tries to befriend Klara, manuveuring her right into his arms.
The film ends like all romances do, with the lovers cinched in a kiss. I was glad to see them get together, I just wish we got to know more about them. Too much time was spent on the boss and his adulterous wife and not enough on the personal lives of these characters. We know nothing about them outside the shop. We hear nothing about the letters after the first times they're mentioned. It would have helped the film a great deal, letting us into their private thoughts and feelings for them to read more of them. It's kind of a stretch, with so little to go on, that these two people would fall in love after the bickering and putdowns we've seen for 2 hours. I know it's a movie, but it just didn't touch me as much as I'd hoped.