HBO Max Summary:
Feuding co-workers do not realize they are secret romantic pen pals.
Alfred Kralik and Klara Novak are competing sales associates at Budapest department store, Matuschek & Co. They can’t stand each other, and their bickering is only getting worse as Christmas nears and the shop is full of people buying gifts. Away from work, Alfred is falling head over heels for his mysterious pen pal, a woman he writes letters to but hasn’t met yet. What he doesn’t know is that Klara is also falling for her own pen pal…
Guys, it’s the story You’ve Got Mail is based on. But set at Christmas time. In Budapest. And starring Jimmy Stewart. These are *literally* a few of my favorite things.
James Stewart as Alfred Kralik
Jimmy Stewart is my ultimate celebrity crush. And this is, like, peak Jimmy Stewart. The jaunty hat, the wide legged pants, the mile-a-minute dialogue. He is young and hot and in top rom-com form here, about the same time as The Philadelphia Story and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, but before It’s a Wonderful Life.
Margaret Sullavan as Klara Novak
I honestly am unfamiliar with the rest of Sullavan’s work, and a scan of IMDB confirms that, but Klara Novak is 1940s Meg Ryan. She’s small and adorable and bubbly but also occasionally put upon in a wrinkled-nose-aw-shucks sort of way.
Frank Morgan as Mr. Matuschek
Probably best known as ~*~the man behind the curtain~*~ in The Wizard of Oz, idk maybe you’ve heard of it.
Couch-Sharing Capability: For the Old and Old at Heart
Will your hip teenage niece want to watch this with you? Probably not. Will your Aunt Carol want to come over with Chardonnay and a box of SnackWells? You betcher buns she will. So pull on your best Chico’s sweater, because it’s middle aged movie night!
Recommended Level of Inebriation: Not Too Drunk for Subtitles
The Shop Around the Corner has that classic, old-timey movie thing going where everyone talks like newspaper reporters at 2x speed. Big “now see here, mister!!!” energy. Not to mention the fact that everyone has kind of weird Hungarian names. So you can enjoy this movie sober or tipsy, but either way, you’ll benefit from the ability to read subtitles.
Use of Your Streaming Subscription: Extended Christmas Watchlist
You know how in You’ve Got Mail, Kathleen is listening to River by Joni Mitchell and she’s like “it’s not even really about Christmas at all.” That’s sort of how I feel about You’ve Got Mail – there’s one Christmas scene, it’s not really a Christmas movie, but something about it FEELS like a Christmas movie? Well, The Shop Around the Corner is You’ve Got Mail if You’ve Got Mail were completely set at Christmas. Who isn’t looking for a new favorite Christmas movie to add to your watchlist this time of year? I’ve PAID MONEY to rent this movie every year because it’s never been on a streaming service and usually only airs once at like, 11pm on Christmas eve. And now, thanks to HBO Max, I don’t have to.