YOU'VE GOT MAIL...
Lawyeraau | Balmoral Castle | 02/17/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a delightful vintage movie that has had several remakes, the most recent being "You've Got Mail" with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. Having seen both versions, this 1940 film has got it beat. Beautifully directed by Ernst Lubitsch, this is a charming, romantic comedy that sets the standard for this genre of film.The premise of the film is simple. In Budapest, Hungary, a young woman advertises for a pen pal, with the proviso that each are to remain anonymous. A young man responds to her ad, and they begin corresponding and fall in love through the mail. Unbeknownst to them, these two amorous correspondents, Alfred Kralik (James Stewart) and Klara Novak (Margaret Sullavan) are co-workers in a leather goods shop owned by Hugo Matuschek (Frank Morgan of Wizard of Oz fame). Unfortunately, they do not appear to get along, and the words fly fast and furious between them at times.There is also a strong sub-plot in this film, involving the cuckolding of Mr. Matuschek by his wife of twenty two years. It is a sub-plot that causes a greatly anguished Mr. Matuschek to turn on an employee whom he holds most dear. This sets in to motion a sequence of interconnecting events and revelations that work beautifully, setting the film for its final resolution between the two main protagonists, Kralik and Novak. James Stewart gives a terrific performance as Kralik, the working stiff who is just looking for the right girl and finds her where he least expected. Stewart always shines when playing the classic Everyman. Margaret Sullavan, as Novak, gives a pert and sassy performance that belies her longing for romance in her life and for her knight in shining armor. Her sharp tongued banter with Kralik disguises an attraction that even she does not fully understand. As they say, there is a fine line between love and hate.Frank Morgan gives a well-nuanced, scene stealing performance as Matuschek, the shopkeeper whose heart is initially broken on a number of fronts. In the end, he rights what went wrong and finds some surcease for his psychic pain by bringing some happiness to another person. Felix Bressart, as the kindly Pirovitch, Kralik's friend and co-worker, and Joseph Schildkraut, as the unctuous Ferenc Vadas, a co-worker whom Kralik detests, are also to be lauded for their performances. William Tracy, as the indefatigable Pepi Katona, the store messenger on the make, is absolutely delightful. This is a masterfully directed film, with wonderful performances by the entire cast. It is a film to be remembered and added to one's personal collection. Bravo!"
The best romantic comedy ever!
Leonard L. Wilson | Springfield, OH USA | 10/18/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is my all-time favorite romantic comedy (and I am a veteran film fan). YOU'VE GOT MAIL is OK, but the modern film makers had to upgrade Hanks' character to make him rich and threw in unnecessary sexual complications for both characters, thereby detracting from the main plot. IN THE GOOD OLD SUMMERTIME, the Judy Garland musical version of the same plot, has the acrimony between the two main characters so strong that it is completely unbelievable when they suddenly fall in love. Only this movie has the perfect touch throughout. The makers of the stage musical, SHE LOVES ME, wisely stuck with the SHOP AROUND THE CORNER plot and produced a most delightful show.Stewart and Sullavan make a superb team, with just the right balance in their developing relationship to make the ending not only possible, but even inevitable. The supporting cast is nearly perfect, especially the always excellent Frank Morgan. Felix Bressart, as Pirovich, and Joseph Schildkraut, as the arrogant but slippery villain, are a delight to watch.Don't just rent this movie--buy it! You will want to watch it again and again. And each time will seem as fresh as the first, because there isn't a false note in the whole film."
Classic Jimmy Stewart
K. Ramsdell | S. Carolina | 10/04/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
""The Shop Around the Corner" is the first of three films based on the same story line. (The others are "In the Good Old Summertime," starring Judy Garland and Van Johnson, and "You've Got Mail," starring Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks.) This original version is, by far, the best of the three. While the acting abilities of James Stewart and Margaret Sullivan are legendary, it's the supporting cast that truly carries this film. Frank Morgan (perhaps best known for his role as the Wizard of OZ) is marvelous as Mr. Matuschek, the shop owner. Sara Hayden, Felix Bressart, and Joseph Schildkraut round out the principle supporting cast and all turn in wonderful performances.If you're a fan of James Stewart or Margaret Sullivan you must see this film. If you love romantic comedies, this is one of the best. And if you just want to see a thoroughly enjoyable movie, watch this one and you won't be disappointed."
The Lubitsch touch, in full bloom
Tim Chong | Colorado Springs, CO United States | 01/28/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In the 1930s and '40s, Ernst Lubitsch made some of the most charming romantic comedies ever made, including "The Love Parade" with Maurice Chevalier and "Ninotchka" with Greta Garbo, not to mention "To Be or Not To Be," one of the greatest comedies of all time. His films had what was called "The Lubitsch touch," a mixture of romance, comedy and social commentary that just plain sparkled.In the midst of this streak he made "The Shop Around the Corner," which has been overshadowed over the years by its remakes "In the Good Old Summertime" and "You've Got Mail." It is far superior to either.Jimmy Stewart is Alfred Kralik, a clerk in Matuschek's leather goods store (nothing kinky, just luggage) in Budapest. Into his store walks Klara Novak (Margaret Sullavan), who he thinks is a customer but really just wants a job. She gets hired, and quickly they get on each other's nerves. By sheer coincidence, they've been exchanging letters anonymously and have fallen in love without knowing each other's identity.Around this main story is a tragic-comic subplot about Mr. Matuschek (Frank Morgan, of "Wizard of Oz" fame) suspecting his wife of being unfaithful with Mr. Kralik. The resolution of this plot is surprisingly somber, and in lesser hands than Lubitsch might have come off as melodramatic (just as the lovers' plot might have come off as far-fetched). But Lubitsch could mix the serious with the silly, and not shortchange either.But what makes this movie interesting to me is the real-life story of Stewart and Sullavan. She met best friends Stewart and Henry Fonda when all three were members of the Cape Cod-based University Players. She would marry Fonda, but they would only stay together for two months. She and Stewart were in love for a time, and he reportedly carried a torch for her until his 1949 marriage. She married three more times and battled drug addiction and mental illness before committing suicide in 1960. But all that lay in the future when this film was made, and I take some consolation in the fact the sparks that fly between Stewart and Sullavan were based on real emotion.As for this DVD edition, it would have been enough to have a "bare bones" edition of the movie. Instead, we have a feature (the 1940 MGM short "The Romance of Sound" -- not two features as the Amazon description might lead you to believe), and a great old-fashioned trailer (with Morgan in character). The only downside: If the trailers for "In the Good Old Summertime" and "You've Got Mail" are on the disc, as it says on the box, they are too well-hidden for me. Methinks someone goofed.For lovers of classic movies, this one's a no-brainer."