158 of 162 people found the following review helpful
YOU'VE GOT MAIL...,
This review is from: The Shop Around the Corner [VHS] (VHS Tape)This is a delightful vintage movie that has had several remakes, the most recent being "You've Got Mail" with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. Having seen both versions, this 1940 film has got it beat. Beautifully directed by Ernst Lubitsch, this is a charming, romantic comedy that sets the standard for this genre of film.
The premise of the film is simple. In Budapest, Hungary, a young woman advertises for a pen pal, with the proviso that each are to remain anonymous. A young man responds to her ad, and they begin corresponding and fall in love through the mail. Unbeknownst to them, these two amorous correspondents, Alfred Kralik (James Stewart) and Klara Novak (Margaret Sullavan) are co-workers in a leather goods shop owned by Hugo Matuschek (Frank Morgan of Wizard of Oz fame). Unfortunately, they do not appear to get along, and the words fly fast and furious between them at times.
There is also a strong sub-plot in this film, involving the cuckolding of Mr. Matuschek by his wife of twenty two years. It is a sub-plot that causes a greatly anguished Mr. Matuschek to turn on an employee whom he holds most dear. This sets in to motion a sequence of interconnecting events and revelations that work beautifully, setting the film for its final resolution between the two main protagonists, Kralik and Novak.
James Stewart gives a terrific performance as Kralik, the working stiff who is just looking for the right girl and finds her where he least expected. Stewart always shines when playing the classic Everyman. Margaret Sullavan, as Novak, gives a pert and sassy performance that belies her longing for romance in her life and for her knight in shining armor. Her sharp tongued banter with Kralik disguises an attraction that even she does not fully understand. As they say, there is a fine line between love and hate.
Frank Morgan gives a well-nuanced, scene stealing performance as Matuschek, the shopkeeper whose heart is initially broken on a number of fronts. In the end, he rights what went wrong and finds some surcease for his psychic pain by bringing some happiness to another person. Felix Bressart, as the kindly Pirovitch, Kralik's friend and co-worker, and Joseph Schildkraut, as the unctuous Ferenc Vadas, a co-worker whom Kralik detests, are also to be lauded for their performances. William Tracy, as the indefatigable Pepi Katona, the store messenger on the make, is absolutely delightful.
This is a masterfully directed film, with wonderful performances by the entire cast. It is a film to be remembered and added to one's personal collection. Bravo!
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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 21, 2008 8:21:28 AM PST
Linda Anthony says:
I enjoyed your very interesting review. More specifically, when you said, "Margaret Sullavan, as Novak, gives a pert and sassy performance that belies her longing for romance in her life and for her knight in shining armor." I agree that both this movie and Good Old Summertime, definitely showed that the main characters wanted more than romance, but a deep and lasting love in their life. And, when you said, "Her sharp tongued banter with Kralik disguises an attraction that even she does not fully understand." It is only when you said this that I finally understood my own feelings about both movies - that this is the particular area which I didn't feel the acting conveyed that message. And now that you mention it, it makes sense. Lots of emotions in both movies from all the characters, not an easy task to convey but for the most part expertly done. Both great in their own way. Wonderful and great talents all around.
In reply to an earlier post on Sep 12, 2010 10:01:05 AM PDT
K. Seymour says:
In regards to "You've Got Mail",I can think of very few "new" movies that will ever match the older pictures In acting or writing.
In reply to an earlier post on Dec 31, 2010 7:41:36 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 31, 2010 7:43:27 PM PST
You got it right...I agree...very few movies equal the classics..
James Stewart is one of my personal favorites, next to Gregory Peck.
Lawyeraau: Nice review...
Have you seen Now Voyager with Bette Davis or Gaslight with
In reply to an earlier post on Jan 26, 2011 3:53:15 AM PST
Louie D says:
I never saw any chemistry between Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan in You've Got Mail. It seemed to be made for two stars updating an old script to save money. I didn't like it, unlike The Shop Around The Corner which my wife and I still watch every time we see it on AMC.
In reply to an earlier post on May 16, 2012 1:22:53 PM PDT
E. Sadowski says:
I own "Shop Around the Corner" and previously owned "You've Got Mail". Personally, I prefer the older film since I think Sullavan and Stewart were better matched than Ryan and Hanks in their bantering. In addition, the older script has more humor, wit, and playfulness than the remake.
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