The Shop Around the Corner

The Shop Around the Corner ★★★★½

The Lubitsch Touch is in full force in this delightful blend of comedy, romance and drama from legendary director Ernst Lubitsch with James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan as fellow employees at a Budapest general store whose personalities clash in person but are unknowingly each others secret romantic pen pals. Charming, finely tuned workplace set comedy has memorable characters, witty dialogue, smart observations about both workplace dynamics and male and female dynamics and terrific performances by an outstanding ensemble cast which includes numerous familiar character actors. While I do feel this beloved film totally deserves its reputation as a near perfect holiday classic my only slight quibble is that I find the character played by Margaret Sullavan incredibly annoying. She reminds me of Diane Chambers the character that Shelley Long played on Cheers. In fact the entire dynamic of Stewart and Sullavan in this film reminds me of the relationship between Sam Malone (Ted Danson) and Diane on that show and I wouldn't be at all surprised if this film formed some part of the inspiration for the creators of the aforementioned long-running sitcom. Much as with that show I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with the core romantic relationship in this film. Indeed much as with Cheers I actually prefer the action going on all around the main characters in this film than I do the moments that focus solely on the Stewart and Sullavan interplay. That being said, I do think this is a truly wonderful and highly entertaining film and would make a worthy addition to anyone's seasonal holiday viewing.

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