The Shop Around the Corner


The Shop Around the Corner

Critics Consensus

Deftly directed by Ernst Lubitsch from a smart, funny script by Samson Raphaelson, The Shop Around the Corner is a romantic comedy in the finest sense of the term.



Total Count: 29


Audience Score

User Ratings: 11,894
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The Shop Around the Corner Photos

Movie Info

The Shop Around the Corner is adapted from the Hungarian play by Nikolaus (Miklos) Laszlo. Budapest gift-shop clerk Alfred Kralik (James Stewart) and newly hired shopgirl Klara Novak (Margaret Sullavan) hate each other almost at first sight. Kralik would prefer the company of the woman with whom he is corresponding by mail but has never met. Novak likewise carries a torch for her male pen pal, whom she also has never laid eyes on. It doesn't take a PhD degree to figure out that Kralik and Novak have been writing letters to each other. The film's many subplots are carried by Frank Morgan as the kindhearted shopkeeper and by Joseph Schildkraut as a backstabbing employee whose comeuppance is sure to result in spontaneous applause from the audience. Directed with comic delicacy by Ernst Lubitsch, this was later remade in 1949 as In the Good Old Summertime, and in 1998 as You've Got Mail. It was also musicalized as the 1963 Broadway production She Loves Me. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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Margaret Sullavan
as Klara Novak
James Stewart
as Alfred Kralik
Frank Morgan
as Hugo Matuschek
Joseph Schildkraut
as Ferencz Vadas
Felix Bressart
as Pirovitch
William Tracy
as Pepi Katona
Charles Halton
as Detective
Sarah Edwards
as Woman Customer
Gertrude Simpson
as Woman Customer
Grace Hayle
as Plump Woman
Charles Arnt
as Policeman
Mary Carr
as Grandmother
Mabel Colcord
as Aunt Anna
Renie Riano
as Customer
Ruth Warren
as Customer
Joan Blair
as Customer
Mira McKinney
as Customer
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Critic Reviews for The Shop Around the Corner

All Critics (29) | Top Critics (6) | Fresh (29)

  • Lubitsch demonstrates that romantic comedies, like popcorn, can be enjoyed salty as well as sweet.

    Dec 9, 2010 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • As the plot has as many complications as characters, much of the fun comes in watching Scripter Samson Raphaelson neatly tangle and untangle them without tying himself in a hard knot.

    Dec 5, 2008 | Full Review…
    TIME Magazine
    Top Critic
  • Although picture carries the indelible stamp of Ernst Lubitsch at his best in generating humor and human interest from what might appear to be unimportant situations, it carries further to impress via the outstanding characterizations by Margaret Sullavan

    Nov 27, 2007 | Full Review…

    Variety Staff

    Top Critic
  • This 1940 film is one of Ernst Lubitsch's finest and most enduring works, a romantic comedy of dazzling range.

    Nov 27, 2007 | Full Review…
  • Thoroughly different from To Be or Not To Be but just as exhilarating, it's one of the few films truly justifying Lubitsch's reputation for a 'touch.'

    Feb 9, 2006 | Full Review…

    David Jenkins

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • ...a pretty kettle of bubbling brew it makes under Mr. Lubitsch's deft and tender management and with a genial company to play it gently, well this side of farce and well that side of utter seriousness.

    May 20, 2003 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Shop Around the Corner

  • Jan 01, 2019
    A great love story about the power of empathy, something we could all use a little more of these days.
    Alec B Super Reviewer
  • Dec 28, 2018
    A film with many layers and a joy to watch, itâ(TM)s a real triumph for director Ernst Lubitsch. He gives us a romantic comedy in which the romance is just a part of a larger canvas, one that touches us in so many ways: the loneliness of the holiday season, the humiliation of betrayal, needing to endure other people and the boss at oneâ(TM)s workplace to support a family, and of course, an unlikely love that only comes from scratching beneath the surface. Lubitsch is so complete in the way he tells this story, and yet seems to tread lightly as he does so. He fleshes out his characters in the simplest of ways, with little gestures and comments. He exercises the deftness of restraint in all things, from the slyness of his comedy to letting silence and his actorsâ(TM) faces say it all when appropriate. He gives us a rich symphony of human emotions, showing us human dignity and the angels of our better natures, but also our pettiness, jealousy, vanity, and disdain. In love, he shows us the importance of inner character but also acknowledges physical appeal. In community, he gives us a sense of comradeship, but also the inevitable pecking order and little rivalries. There is real wisdom in his observations of how people behave, but also a philosophical acceptance and elegant refinement in how he presents it. He always seems to thread the needle, and maybe thatâ(TM)s the essence of what the â~Lubitsch touchâ(TM) is all about. One theme in the film is how people communicate, and the need to be honest and yet graceful. We see this in how one salesman (Jimmy Stewart) talks to the boss (Frank Morgan) contrasted to the way another does (Joseph Schildkraut), a guy who sucks up and is an example of grace without truth. We also see it in how Stewart and the new saleswoman (Margaret Sullavan) antagonize each another, never giving one another the benefit of the doubt, and often being forthright but lacking grace. They are of course much more eloquent and kind to one another as anonymous pen-pals, and it shows us how much our openness and attitude towards someone else shapes our view of them. The cast is fantastic, led by excellent performances from Morgan and Stewart. Felix Bressart as the family man and William Tracy as the errand boy stand out in supporting roles. I wasnâ(TM)t as wild about Margaret Sullavan, but she fits the part quite well. The scene she has with Stewart in the cafà (C) is wonderfully acerbic, and is preceded by Bressart pointing out just who has the copy of Anna Karenina with the red carnation in a clever way. Another great scene is Stewartâ(TM)s dismissal, which is one he and Lubitsch both execute as true masters. I also loved that moment Frank Morgan has with the new errand boy after seeking someone to go to dinner with. There is such a genuine feeling to this film, where Lubitsch really takes us into the world of this little shop. As in life, there is despair, humiliation, and bickering, just as there is warmth, friendship, and higher love. This is an old film to seek out.
    Antonius B Super Reviewer
  • Oct 09, 2013
    A Hungarian clerk falls in love with a pen pal who turns out to be his co-worker, with whom he has an antagonistic relationship. A remarkably dark romantic comedy, The Shop Around the Corner falls well short of charming (any claim it has to that adjective comes in the person of the naturally delightful Jimmy Stewart). Instead subplots of infidelity and a failing business cloud whatever romantic juice can be squeezed out of the primary plotline. The film is not boring nor are the characters bland, but the heavy air of the Hungarian milieu and the heavier subplots bring the story to a slow climb toward nothing interesting. Overall, I suspect the modern You've Got Mail might have a better tone but less substance, and as a whole, this story feels too uneven.
    Jim H Super Reviewer
  • Jan 30, 2011
    This one is a classic romance. But one of those really-good-can't-get-enough-of-them classics.
    Wildaly M Super Reviewer

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