AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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The Shop Around the Corner
Director: Ernst Lubitsch (Dir)
Release Date:   12 Jan 1940
Duration (in mins):  97 or 100
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Cast: Margaret Sullavan  (Klara Novak)
  James Stewart  (Alfred Kralik)
  Frank Morgan  (Hugo Matuschek)
 

Summary: At the Budapest shop Matuschek and Company, work Pepi Katona, the snippy errand boy, Pirovitch, the mild-mannered clerk, Alfred Kralik, the bashful yet lovestruck head clerk, the duplicitious Ferencz Vadas, and clerks Ilona and Flora. Each morning, the six line up in front of the shop to await the arrival of their boss, Hugo Matuschek, and while waiting one day, Alfred confides to his friend Pirovitch that he has answered a blind personal ad in the newspaper and has entered into a romance through the post. That morning, Klara Novak enters the shop, looking for a job, and although Alfred turns her down, Matuschek decides to hire the girl when she talks a customer into buying a cigarette box that plays "Otchi Tchorniye," an item which Matuschek loves, but Alfred hates. At work, Klara and Alfred argue incessently, never suspecting that they are carrying on a tender romance through the mail, as Klara is Alfred's secret correspondent. Through their anonymously signed letters, the lovers agree to meet for the first time at a cafe, but that night, Matuschek, thinking that Alfred is the man a private detective agency reports is having an affair with his wife, fires the clerk. Later, when the detective that Matuschek has hired informs him that his wife is actually having an affair with Vadas, he despairs and tries to end his life, but is saved by Pepi. Meanwhile, Alfred arrives at his rendezvous and is astonished to discover that his secret love is Klara. He approaches her as a co-worker and does not divulge his secret identity, and when she berates him, he leaves. Later that night, Alfred is summoned to the hospital bed of the ailing Matuschek who appoints him store manager and begs him for forgiveness. After firing Vadas, Alfred rallies the store employees, and on Christmas Eve, Matuschek returns to a happy reunion of his employee family in the shop. Once everyone else has departed, Klara confides to Alfred that she finds him attractive, and he finally reveals himself as her secret lover. 

Distribution Company: Loew's Inc.
Production Company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Director: Ernst Lubitsch (Dir)
  Horace Hough (Asst dir)
Producer: Ernst Lubitsch (Prod)
Writer: Samson Raphaelson (Scr)

Subject Major: False accusations
  Impersonation and imposture
  Letters
  Romance
  Salesclerks
 
Subject Minor: Attempted suicide
  Budapest (Hungary)
  Caf├ęs
  Christmas Eve
  Delivery men
  Dismissal (Employment)
  Employer-employee relations
  Hospitals
  Infidelity
  Jealousy
  Music boxes
  Stores, Retail
  Unemployment

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
 
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