Skip to Content

The Shop Around the Corner (1940) | Classic Christmas Movie Review

Thank you for sharing!

You’ve Got Mail! I loved that movie starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. To think that you could fall in love with someone through email seemed interesting to me. In real life, I met my husband through Yahoo messenger so I know it is possible. Before the invention of the internet, it was letter writing. Letter writing is a lost art even though it is a heartfelt and meaningful way to communicate with someone. You’ve Got Mail is based on an original movie called The Shop Around the Corner.

The Shop Around the Corner Movie Review

This movie is considered a Christmas movie because the end scenes happen on Christmas Eve. This review does have a couple spoilers.

The Shop Around the Corner vs. You've Got Mail

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The Shop Around the Corner was a little hard to get into but I think this is because I watched the movie with the thought that it would be like You’ve Got Mail. The beginning of the movie shows a gathering of employees at the Matuschek Shop. The owner of the shop, Hugo, was the last to arrive and opened up the shop. The owner of the shop was enduring and I was in love with his character.

After the first five minutes of the movie I was hooked. Klara Novak, played by Margaret Sullavan, came in the shop looking for employment. Her personality and ability to sell got her hired as a sales clerk. Alfred Kralik, played by James Stewart, another clerk was put in charge of her and they argued all the time. There are lots of clean but full-witted cuts back and forth to each other. You could tell there was an attraction and awkward tension between them.

Alfred confides in another clerk that he is ready to settle down and that he is writing letters to a woman he found through a newspaper ad. He loves writing letters to her and discussing literature and other worldly ideals. After he finds outs Klara is the woman he is writing to, he tries to woo her himself.

The movie takes a somewhat dark twist when the shop owner, Hugo, discovers his wife has been having an affair with one of his employees. He attempts to take his life. I did not expect that. Luckily, another employee stopped him just in time and Hugo got the help he needed in a mental hospital. Hugo makes Alfred the manager after the incident.

Other than Alfred exposing himself as the letter writer to Klara and getting a happily ever after,  I love that Hugo also gets a happy ending by not having to spend Christmas alone.

The Shop around the Corner should definitely be on your Christmas movie watching list this holiday season.

The Shop Around the Corner vs. You’ve Got Mail!

I was expecting the same movie and was pleasantly surprised by the differences. The first major difference was the location. You’ve Got Mail takes places here in America in the NYC, while The Shop Around the Corner takes place in Hungary. You also only have two main settings for the movie, the shop and the cafe where the meetup was to take place.

Another major difference is that Alfred and Klara are not in competition with each other. A major focus of You’ve Got Mail is the welfare of the Kathleen Kelly’s little book shop in relation to Joe Fox’s major retail book selling chain. The Shop Around the Corner is mainly focused on the love stories of Klara and Alfred and Hugo’s life.

I think I love the Shop Around the Corner more. Klara is still a strong female character. Some older movies make women seem ditsy and dependent on their man, that was not the case in this movie.

Have you seen both movies? Which one do you like best? Let me know in the comments!

The Shop Around the Corner movie review

Thank you for sharing!