The Shop Around the Corner (1940)

shop around the corner poster 1940 movie
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Isn't afraid to get dark at points

Rather common romantic comedy set-up

Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Shop Around the Corner

Studio:  MGM

Genre(s):  Comedy/Romance/Seasonal

Release Date(s):  January 12, 1940

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated


Oh yeah…keep waiting

The Christmas season is coming and Matuschek and Company is doing huge business.  When the owner Hugo Matuschek (Frank Morgan) is convinced to hire Klara Novak (Margaret Sullavan), Alfred Kralik (James Stewart) finds himself immediately at odds with Klara.  What Alfred and Klara don’t know is that they are also in love with each other.  Through the personal ads, Klara and Alfred have been corresponding…unaware they are working in close proximity.  When Hugo believes that Alfred has betrayed him, Alfred might lose the job he needs at the time of the year when he needs it most…and in turn lose the love of the woman he has never met.


If I start singing “Suicide is Painless”, call for a nurse.

Directed by Ernst Lubitsch, The Shop Around the Corner is a holiday classic.  It is based on a Hungarian played called Parfumerie from 1937 by Miklós László and since the film’s release, it has become an example of a classic romance from the period.  The movie was inducted into the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 1999 and can frequently be found on “best of” lists for romances.

This is one of those movies that I put in as a “classic romantic comedy”.  The set-up, the actors, and the style are like the perfect combination for a classic tale…which The Shop Around the Corner ends up not only being a great example but actually a good film.


Well, the next logical step is to get married immediately

The story for the movie is smart, if not a bit weird and sometimes dark.  It is a very Shakespearian type set-up that pays off.  With the idea of personals even more popular today, the movie has aged decently well.  I like that movie isn’t just a simple light comedy with Matuschek attempting suicide and the adultery also occurring.  The romance development is a lot similar to all these movies in that Klara and Alfred spend most of the movie bickering but by the end they are engaged to be married in a few minutes…not realistic but a happy Christmas ending.

James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan are great leads.  They both are very likable and classic archtypes of characters.  The movie has some nice back-up with Frank Morgan, and I do have a hard time watching Morgan without thinking of him in The Wizard of Oz.  The movie attempts to develop a few other characters which don’t really work, but the main cast does hold its ground.


…and the Wizard gets his man…wait, what?

Like many of these comedies, the movie is primarily set based.  It is a rather cheap set and does come off more as a stage play than a big budget film.  The movie doesn’t need a bunch of locations, but it would have been nice to see some of the city.

The Shop Around the Corner is a fun little romantic comedy that has had reach since its release.  The movie has quite a following and also spawned remakes.  The movie In the Good Old Summertime from 1949 is a musical version of the movie and the Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan film You’ve Got Mail from 1998 also plays on the same themes but modernized with email.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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