you've got mail from the shop around the corner

I've known David Bishop for about a year and a half. He is officially one of my favorite "Internet people". He also, by virtue of his impeccable (read: similar to my) taste in movies, is one of the three or so people on the planet who can be called my Movie Muse. About 90% of his recommendations make it onto my Netflix queue.

It was at David's suggestion that I rented The Shop Around the Corner, a 1940 film starring Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullavan. I've been a fan of You've Got Mail since it first came out, and The Shop Around the Corner is the chief inspiration (along with AOL, I guess) for You've Got Mail.

Both films center around a man and woman who correspond with each other as mystery pen pals, and who coincidentally know (and hate) one another in real life. Of course, eventually the jig is up, they discover the identity of the other, and fall madly in love.

Yeah. This could never, ever happen. So why do I like the idea so much?

Aside from these basic plot points, the two movies really aren't that similar. Really, how could they be? One is set in a leather goods shop in 1940's Budapest while the other is set in New York City, half a decade later, with the disembodied voice of America Online ("You've got mail!") as the third lead character.

Let's start with The Shop Around the Corner. Like I said, I enjoy the basic premise, unrealistic as it may be. But somehow Stewart and Sullavan never muster enough chemistry to convince the viewer that they like each other after all. It just seems clunky, abrupt, and absolutely un-romantic. Even the subplot of an affair with the boss' wife comes off as superfluous and, frankly, boring.

In You've Got Mail, on the other hand, Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan knock it out of the park. Come on, we all knew they were fantastic every time they share screen space. I've loved them in everything they've done. (What's that? Even Joe vs. the Volcano, you ask? Especially Joe vs. the Volcano.) I think the plot could be crafted by Mary Higgins Clark, and these two would still sell it. I should point out, though that this script was very well crafted. The dialogue is superb (remember Tom Hanks' character relating every life problem to something from The Godfather?)--and in the subplot department: Meg Ryan's little shop being driven out of business by Tom Hanks' Barnes & Noble-esque leviathan was topical and touching.

All that having been said, it is a little distracting watching the workings of the Internet circa 1999, but that was inevitable given how heavily the film relied on a fleeting technological gimmick.

So this is why I let David influence me so much. The Shop Around the Corner was not nearly as entertaining as my pick, You've Got Mail, but I'm really glad I saw it. My appreciation of this fluffy little romantic comedy is greatly enhanced by having seen its predecessor.

Next up on the Netflix queue, at David's (and Nathaniel's) urging: Memento.
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • Twitter
  • RSS

9 Response to "you've got mail from the shop around the corner"

  1. Jess says:
    August 28, 2008 at 8:21 AM

    Nayana, I love You've Got Mail ("Thank yer, ladies and gentlemen") is a family quote constantly. But I also like "Shop Around the Corner" a lot too. And if you're so inclined, the musical "She Loves Me" is actually the same story again, and if you like musicals is really lovely.

  2. David Bishop says:
    August 28, 2008 at 10:54 AM

    I like Joe Vs. The Volcano quite a bit. I'm not even all that bothered by the island of orange soda enthusiasts. I love that scene where a water-deprived Tom Hanks is dancing to "Come Go With Me" on top of his luggage. I also like that it opens with "Sixteen Tons."

    I too liked You've Got Mail more, but like you discovered, I thought it added to my appreciation having seen the foundation for which it was based.

    And thanks for all the kind words. I hope you enjoy Memento.

  3. valis says:
    August 28, 2008 at 12:23 PM

    Joe vs. the Volcano is highly underrated. It is especially nice to see Meg Ryan play outside her usual role of the lead.

    Memento does rule the universe.

  4. Fletch says:
    August 28, 2008 at 3:40 PM

    I want in on that urging, too. Haven't seen Memento?!? The horror.

    And yes, I realize the phrase "I want in on that urging" sounds kinda wrong. Sorry about that.

  5. Nayana Anthony says:
    August 28, 2008 at 3:45 PM

    OK. In on the urging:
    the guy behind the counter at Chipotle
    old ladies passing me on the street
    the wind in the trees

    You all are tormenting me in my dreams!!! See Memento! See Memento! All right already!


  6. Nayana Anthony says:
    August 28, 2008 at 3:47 PM

    Joe vs. the Volcano is beyond underrated. I love the part when he looks at the moon... "I didn't know... how big."

    Perfect blend of silliness and depth.

  7. Fletch says:
    August 28, 2008 at 3:57 PM

    What about the wind beneath your wings?

  8. Nayana Anthony says:
    August 28, 2008 at 4:01 PM

    Yes, yes. We can all agree that I AM the wind beneath your wings, Fletch. But you're missing the point! The voices. They're getting too loud.


  9. Dad Says:
    September 7, 2008 at 5:36 PM

    oh....I have no response to that.... :-|

Copyright © 2008-2010 The Center Seat
Free WordPress Themes designed by EZwpthemes
Converted by Theme Craft
Powered by Blogger Templates