Just before Christmas, Lee Leander is caught shoplifting. It is her third offense. She is prosecuted by John Sargent. He postpones the trial because it is hard to get a conviction at ... See full summary »
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
In the Book "Ernst Lubitsch: Laughter in Paradise", Ernst Lubitsch called this film "the best picture I ever made in my life." 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 »
Flora, take a letter. Ah... To whom it may concern. Mr. Vadas has been in the employ of Matuschek & Company for the last two years, during which he has been very efficient as a stool pigeon, a troublemaker, and a rat.
Now look here!
And if he doesn't clear out of here he's going to get a punch in the nose! Yours very truly, Alfred Kralik, Manager, Matuschek & Company.
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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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