Director: Ernst Lubitsch

97 mins, 1940, USA, Black & White, Digital

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Perhaps best known to contemporary audiences as the source material for Nora Ephron’s You’ve Got Mail (1998), The Shop Around The Corner is a superior comedy that stands as one of the unalloyed highlights of Hollywood’s Golden Age. Adapted by screenwriter Samson Raphaelson from a play by Hungarian Miklós László, in the hands of director Ernst Lubitsch it becomes a masterpiece of sophisticated wit. Alfred (James Stewart) is the longest-serving and most trusted member of staff at an upmarket store in Budapest. He and new hire Klara (Margaret Sullavan) are immediately at odds, neither of them realising that while their in-person relationship is fractious, they have been anonymously corresponding and thereby falling in love with each other for some time. The machinations of how this ultimately comes to light make for a joyful experience in this masterclass of romantic comedy.

Notes by Kevin Coyne

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