Director Billy Wilder salutes his idol, Ernst Lubitsch, with this comedy about a middle-aged playboy fascinated by the daughter of a private detective who has been hired to entrap him with the wife of a client.
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 »
When Klara hurries out of the back room with her hat and coat she rushes past the rest of the employees as they enter the room in a group. Flora is the second-to-last person in the line and she is clearly inside the room before Klara runs past. In the next cut showing Klara hurrying through the store, Flora is the last person in line and is still in the doorway. 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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Lubitsch's charming masterpiece, so often imitated and re-adapted since it appeared in 1940, is one of the very few films that can be called perfect. There is not a shot, a line, a performance, or a moment in THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER that isn't exactly right. Everything fits together and runs like a Swiss watch.
With its flawless screenplay and cast, it's the most subtle, discreet, and understated of romantic comedies. What other film manages to be so warm-hearted yet so rigorously unsentimental? What other movie story is so exquisitely planned and executed?
Margaret Sullaven isn't sexy, it's true, but this isn't a film about sex. It's about love in the human heart and mind. A sexier actress would have thrown things out-of-balance. As always, Lubitsch knew exactly what he was doing. Just as he knew ace comedian Frank Morgan (the WIZARD OF OZ's Wizard) had hidden depth, which this film so beautifully reveals.
They don't make them like this anymore -- they didn't make them like this back then, either. SHOP was under-rated in 1940, when it appeared. It's simply too subtle, too intelligent and disciplined for the average viewer or critic.
Nothing overdone or exaggerated. Nothing out-of-place. If Mozart had been a filmmaker, he would have made this one. Warm, charming, adult, quiet, intelligent, knowing, touching ... perfection.
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