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I saw this musical on TV back in 1979 as a teenager and never forgot it! PBS showed it for about 3 three years straight during the Christmas season, then stopped airing it around 1982. I searched for 20 years to find a copy, but I could barely find any press on it, let alone a copy! I was finally able to get a copy a couple of years ago and it was as good as I remembered. I hoped it's released soon... It's a musical version of "Shop Around the Corner" (which was the precursor of "You Have Mail") starring Robin Ellis of Poldark fame as Mr. Novack (James Stewart's part in Shop Around the Corner) and Gemma Craven as Amalia Balash (the Margaret Sullavan part in SATC). It takes place for the most part in a 'parfumerie' called Maraczeks, in 1930's Budapest. Mr. Novack is the Head clerk, and fellow employees include Mr. Sipos, an older sort of milquetoast fellow with a wife & family, Ilona, a comely lady who's been around (if you know what I mean), Mr. Kodaly, a playboy, and the owner, Mr. Maraczek. Another employee has left because she's expecting. They're one short, but business is slow so Mr. Maraczek doesn't want to hire someone to replace her. Amalia comes in one day looking for a job and gets hired by Mr. Maraczek after helping him win a bet against Mr.Novack. Unbeknowst to each other, Amalia & Mr. Novack have been communicating by mail, lonely hearts club style. Although in their letters to each other, they're in tune and are very interested in each other, at the shop they dislike each other and fight all the time. If you're familiar with the premise of these types of movies, you can well guess the goings on that come next. While this version omits a couple of songs from the Broadway musical, and vocally the adorable Gemma is no Barbara Cook(who created the role on Broadway) - this is a very enchanting movie! Great music, good performances, a quaint story, funny & romantic, all in all, a very pleasant way to spend a couple of hours....
Sheldon Harnick and Jerry Bock composed the scores of a number of
successful musical. In the 1970s they did this musical, based on Miklos
Lazslo's PERFUMERIE, which Ernst Lubitsch turned into THE SHOP AROUND
THE CORNER, and which had been made into the musical film IN THE GOOD
OLD SUMMERTIME. Called SHE LOVES ME, it returns the setting to the
leather goods store of the 1940 film (as opposed to the music shop of
the 1949 film), and keeps the plot lines of the Lubitsch film as well.
That is, we have the jealousy on the part of the store owner leading to
his discharging the wrong man. We also have that same man discovering
that the pen-pal he has come to admire, even adore, is the same woman
he constantly fights with at work.
SHE LOVES ME was a success on Broadway, and PBS did this television version in 1978 using a British cast. Robin Ellis was playing the James Stewart/Van Johnson role, and Gemma Craven had the Margaret Sullivan/Judy Garland role. Ellis was at the peak of his fame across the Atlantic in the U.S. due to playing Ross Poldark, the hero of the series POLDARK based on the Winston Graham novels about late 18th Century Cornwall. This televised production demonstrated that Ellis was more than capable to handle a singing and dancing role, especially in the best known number from the show (the title song, "She Loves Me". Ms Craven did well too, my favorite recollection being her singing "ICE CREAM", the song that is the beginning of her realization that the fellow who has been a pain in her neck at the job is really quite a sweet guy.
The most interesting thing I found in this version of the story is that the villain actually has a strong good-bye number. Like Schildkraut he gets his comeuppance from management, but unlike that gentleman he takes it well. He'll always be a sneak, and his song shows he is proud of his intelligent slyness, and that he realizes that even with this temporary set-back he'll eventually come out on top somewhere else. He probably did.
British version of the American musical that starred Barbara Cook,
Daniel Massey, and Jack Cassidy (Tony Award winner).
Here we have Robin Ellis as George and Gemma Craven as Amalia, the star-crossed lovers who write to secret pen pals and work together in a perfume shop. They hate each other, little knowing that they're writing to each other.
Things come to a head when Amalia is seated in a cafe waiting for "dear friend," but Georg spies her first and backs out when he realizes that Amalia is HIS "dear friend" and realizes he loves her.
Familiar material from a Hungarian play made into two famous American movies: THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER with Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullavan, and IN THE GOOD OLD SUMMER TIME with Judy Garland and Van Johnson. This charming musical version was a so-so hit on Broadway in its original run and later a bigger hit in a 90s revival.
Robin Ellis (famous for the POLDARK series) in a dashing Georg and sings pleasingly. Gemma Craven is a delightful Amalia and has a nice voice. Others in the cast include David Kernan as the can Kodaly, Diane Langton excellent as Ilona, Derek Smith as the shop owner, Peter Sallis as Sipos, Nigel Rathbone as Arpad, and Aubrey Woods as the cafe owner.
Each actor gets his/her moment to shine. The musical numbers are incredibly good and very clever indeed. The many songs actually carry the plot forward, and it's difficult to pick the best among so many great songs. No matter. The entire show is a treat.
Legend has it that Julie Andrews and Daniel Massey, fresh from the film STAR! were scheduled to star in the film version in the late 60s. But STAR! tanked and the project was dumped. What a shame. Andrews would have been a spectacular Amalia and Massey could have re-created his Broadway success.
A very special mention must be made for Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick for their beautiful words and music for this little masterpiece.
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