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The Shop Around the Corner

Directed by Ernst Lubitsch

USA, 1940

Cornerhouse, 11 December 2011

The Shop Around the Corner

There is nothing new under the sun.

For even before the internet, couples would carry on a courtship without actually meeting in the flesh.

Relations between Alfred (James Stewart) and Klara (Margaret Sullavan), fellow shop-workers, become fairly strained.  Indeed, they are always at each other’s throats, quarrelling.  Despite this, their letters are wings that allow their souls to take flight and commune.

It is an enjoyable comedy, and in the end a very moving one.  The way James Stewart responds to rejection (getting fired, receiving a dismissive put-down from his girl) with dignity is one thing that strikes you about the film.  His fingers trembling, oh so slightly, as he places a key on the table.  It’s fresh and real here, but later on it would become his shtick.

Lubitsch loosens you up with laughter, all the better for the strikes of sentiment and emotion to hit home.  There is a cascade of potent emotion, climaxing with James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan alone together.

A very satisfying film, playing as part of Cornerhouse’s Festive Favourites season, which is being shown again on Wednesday, details here.

And click here and scroll down for a snapshot of another pre-internet internet romance.

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