Christmas is finally upon us with cheer and joy all around. Personally, I love this time of the year because of just that. It’s a time to be with those you love, exchange gifts and embrace the spirit of the holiday. Christmas is so popular that the cinema has shown their own.unique of what the holidays bring. For the next 25 days, we will review 25 films that bring out the best of XMAS in what I call with an unoriginal title of 25 Days of Christmas. We shall explore the classics of the season from hysterical comedies, thrilling action and even done horror song the easy. Let’s not delay and get to the first film.
The Shop Around the Corner (1940)
It’s go all the way back to 1940 with this classic romantic comedy. Two Hungarians shopkeepers, Alfred Kralik (James Stewart) and Klara Novak (Margaret Robinson), work together at a local shop in Budapest. Only in the 40’s could two Hungarians be played by two American actors. These two are always at each other’s throats a majority of the time. The hot headed Alfred, however, has been exchanging romantic letters with a secret pen pal while the beautiful intelligent Karla keeps her wits about her with a secret admirer. Wouldn’t you guess it, these two are the ones exchanging letters to one another without knowing it. There is also a really dark B-plot involving their boss Hugo Matuschek’s (Frank Morgan) wife’s affair and his attempted suicide that seems to come a bit out of nowhere, yet carries the story along.
This is a curious Christmas movie as it, like future films on the list, seem to be merely set during Christmas time. What makes this film work is the acting. The humor send a bit dated, but the interaction between Robinson and Stewart oozes pure chemistry. These two hold their own and are a delight. They get into arguments over work and have witty back and forth. For example, the scene when Alfred finds that its her waiting at the cafe for him, he races in to try and cheer up, not as her mystery man, but as a co-worker. She wants none of it and he tried his best to get a decent conversation. It makes the outcome in the end have a greater impact on those watching the film. The subplot with the boss doesn’t harm the film as it shows a man broken by love and hellbent on writing who could do such a thing to him. Sure, the Christmas season has love in full boom, yet sometimes, love can turn grim as her find out.
The Shop Around the Corner is a wonderful romantic film with great performances and set the standard fir romantic comedies. Heck, it even got adapted again as You’ve Got Mail in the late 90’s with Tom Haha and Meg Ryan, except without the Christmas backdrop surrounding it. It’s a Christmas film in theory, but stands on its own.as a romantic tale.
Lucky for James Stewart, he would be part of a more significant Christmas classic that would become nothing short of timeless.