Romantic comedy from legendary director Ernst Lubitsch, starring James Stewart
and Margaret Sullivan as bickering co-workers who are (unbeknown to them
) pen pals in love. Set in Budapest, Hungary, since it was based on the play Parfumerie
by Hungarian author Miklós László.
Remade in 1948 as In The Good Old Summertime
with Judy Garland, but set in The Gay Nineties
. Adapted as The Musical She Loves Me
on Broadway in 1963. Remade again in 1998 as You've Got Mail
with Tom Hanks
and Meg Ryan
, with that newfangled technology like email
and instant messaging
This film features examples of:
- But He Sounds Handsome:
- Subverted. Kralik pretends that he met Miss Novak's "Dear Friend," and insults him. before The Reveal. She admits then she'd long hoped it would be him.
- Played straight earlier in the film, when Miss Novak receives a letter from the "Dear Friend", who says he saw her with Mr. Kralik at the restaurant. "Who is this very attractive young man? He's just the type women fall for."
- Contrived Coincidence: Where does Klara find a job in Budapest? The store where her anonymous pen pal works.
- Dramatic Irony: From the point Kralik knows who his "Dear Friend" is, and Miss Novak doesn't.
- Fake Nationality: The Hungarian characters are played by American, Austrian and German actors.
- Gold Digger: Mr. Vadas, who seems to be bleeding Mrs. Matuschek (and thus her husband) for money and favors.
- He Who Must Not Be Seen: Mrs. Matuschek.
- Hidden Depths: Alfred is brusque and businesslike, and Klara is kind of bitchy, but they're both deeply sensitive people underneath their exteriors.
- Hot And Cold: Klara to Alfred. One of the most well known early examples in fiction (Type 2 to be exact), Lampshaded when she said she read a book that tells her that if you treat a man like a dog he'll be eating out of your hand but all he did was return the favor.
- Insistent Terminology: Lampshaded:
Pepi: I'm a contact man. I keep contact between Matuschek & Co and the customers - on a bicycle.
Doctor: You mean an errand boy.
Pepi: Doctor - did I call you a pill-peddler?
- Internal Reveal: When Klara finally finds out who her Dear Friend is.
- Interrupted Suicide: Mr. Matuschek with a gun (interrupted by Pepi) when he finds out his wife has been cheating on him with Mr. Vadas instead of Mr. Kralik (as he originally suspected); his attempt is, arguably, out of guilt of false accusation and firing of his best employee more than the infidelity itself.
- Last Name Basis: The shop workers all address each other as "Mr. _____" or "Miss _____". Kralik does start privately calling Miss Novak "Klara" once he begins to care for her, though.
- Living with the Villain
- Married to the Job: Mr. Matuschek
- Mistaken for Cheating: Inverted; Mr. Matuschek knows that his wife is cheating with one of his employees and comes to the conclusion that it is Mr. Kralik. It's really Mr. Vadas.
- Romantic Comedy
- Smug Snake: Vadas
- Stood Up: Alfred didn't intend to stand Klara up—but he loses his job. And then she's particularly cruel to him at the restaurant after he comes in and sits at her table. So he goes home without revealing himself. Klara takes being Stood Up very badly.
- The Thirties: Technically from 1940, but the feeling is much more Depression-era 30s than WWII era 40s.
- Translation Convention: They are Hungarian, after all.
- True Companions: Mr. Matuschek says that Kralik is like a son to him. Also, he takes the new delivery boy home for Christmas Eve dinner after discovering that both of them are spending the holiday alone.