The Shop Around the Corner
G98 min

Director: Ernst Lubitsch Starring:Frank Morgan, James Stewart, Joseph Schildkraut, Margaret Sullavan, Felix Bressart Released:Thu 21 Dec 2023


Made between the more famous Ninotchka (1939) and To Be or Not to Be (1942), and now re-released, this is director Ernst Lubitsch’s supreme romantic comedy, a warmly affectionate study of the love, loneliness and friendship shared between a group of shop-workers in Budapest one Christmas.

James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan are perfect as antagonistic employees on the shop floor who are also, unbeknown to themselves, anonymous pen-pals. The way Lubitsch and his marvellous screenwriter Samson Raphaelson steer them towards recognition and then love is a masterclass in elegant narrative disclosure. The other characters are observed with equal tenderness. It has been remade twice, but the famed Lubitsch touch (a blend of European sophistication, wry wit and visual discretion) was unique. ‘Well,’ said Billy Wilder sadly, when Lubitsch died in 1947, ‘no more Lubitsch.’ ‘Worse,’ replied his friend William Wyler, ‘no more Lubitsch films.’

This delightful romantic comedy is often overlooked in Christmas terms due to James Stewart’s popularity in It’s a Wonderful Life, but this as funny, subtle and joyous as you would expect from Lubitsch. Give yourself a Christmas treat: visit The Shop Around the Corner.

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