In Budapest, Hungary, the Matuschek and Company store is owned by Mr. Hugo Matuschek and the bachelor Alfred Kralik is his best and most experienced salesman. When Klara Novak seeks a job position of saleswoman in the store, Matuschek hires her but Kralik and she do not tolerate each other. Meanwhile the lonely and dedicated Kralik has an unknown pen pal that he intends to propose very soon; however, he is fired without explanation by Matuschek in the night that he is going to meet his secret love. He goes to the bar where they have scheduled their meeting with his colleague Pirovitch and he surprisingly finds that Klara is his correspondent; however, ashamed with the unemployment, he does not disclose his identity to her. When Matuschek discovers that he had misjudged Kralik and committed a mistake, he hires him again for the position of manager. But Klara is still fascinated with her future fiancé and does not pay much attention to Kralik. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
All scenes were reportedly shot in sequence. See more »
Before they leave the store room Alfred takes 5 boxes and Klara 4. In the next cut, suddenly Klara carries 5 boxes and Alfred has 4. See more »
Klara Novak (Miss Novak):
[In her letter to Alfred]
: 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.
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A wonderful film, filled with great understated performance and sharp, intelligent dialogue. What really distinguishes the film, however, is that undercurrent of sadness throughout. The story is underscored by affairs, loneliness, suicide, disappointment, the fear of losing ones job in a world where that had disastrous consequences. Most of all it was set in a world that no longer existed, having been ripped apart by the beginning of World War II. In fact, the film is barely a comedy at all if you compare the percentage of serious scenes to the comic scenes. Yet funny it is--listen to Margaret Sullivan's harsh dismissal of Jimmy Stewart and watch his pained expression as he replies that her comments were a remarkable blend "of poetry and meanness". It's funny, pointed, and sad all at once. A remarkable achievement and one of the ten greatest screen comedies ever made.
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