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The Shop Around the Corner

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Director: Ernst Lubitsch
1940 / 97min / DCP

Christmas is coming, and at Matuschek’s department store in Budapest—or, rather, a charming, snowbound Hollywood studio evocation of the city in its prewar splendor—the employees are bracing for the holiday rush. But that’s the least of the drama in Lubitsch’s disarmingly emotional romantic comedy, which revolves around the love-hate dynamic between bickering store clerks James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan, while also allowing for unusually depthful characterizations of the galaxy of memorable supporting players who bustle around them. Elements of the plot may be familiar from You’ve Got Mail, based on the same 1937 source play, but Lubitsch alone could make this material into something as tender, rueful, and passionate as The Shop Around the Corner.