Last week, I wrote about a Danny Kaye movie that was a remake of an earlier Gary Cooper film. Remakes are nothing unusual; after all, there seems to be a finite number of workable plots. Today, I want to feature a plot that has had three successful iterations.
In 1937, Miklos Laszlo, wrote a play in his native Hungary, Parfumerie, about two people who work in a shop. These employees do not like each other in real life, but as fate would have it, they are unknowing penpals. Of course, love blossoms. In 1940, this little story was brought to America by Hungarian director Ernst Lubisch and made as The Shop Around the Corner.
Featuring the great Jimmy Stewart as the male lead, it’s a fun movie to watch. Eventually, of course, the two decide to meet at a local restaurant, with flowers as a signal to their identity. And as you might guess, Stewart is shocked to learn that his correspondent is the woman that he dislikes. So shocked,in fact, that he stands her up, and she sits in the restaurant for hours waiting for a date that never shows. I’m not going to go any further, but I’m sure that there’s a good chance you are already connecting The Shop Around the Corner to a newer film.
In this scene, Stewart is talking with a co-worker, prior to meeting his penpal, about his misgivings. The actor he is talking to is Felix Bressart, a veteran character actor who came to America from Germany. He is one of those “Oh, Him!” actors that you try to remember where you’ve seen before. In this case, he was one of the professors in last week’s movie, A Song Is Born.