Last night for the first time I watched "The Shop Around the Corner" a 1940 movie starring Jimmy Steward and Margaret Sullivan. It was on Turner Classic Movies. What a delightful comedy-drama and it almost rivals "It's a Wonderful Life."
It is a movie that is filmed as though it is a play on Broadway. It is simple with simple sets. The star is the acting and plot. The sets though create an atmosphere for the actors to practice their art and practice it they do.
Here is the 1940's trailer with Wikipedia's summary below it:
Alfred Kralik (James Stewart) is the top salesman at a leathergoods shop in Budapest owned by the high-strung Mr. Hugo Matuschek (Frank Morgan). Kralik's coworkers at Matuschek and Company include his friend, Pirovitch (Felix Bressart), a kindly family man; Ferencz Vadas (Joseph Schildkraut), a two-faced womanizer; and Pepi Katona (William Tracy),
an ambitious, precocious delivery boy. One morning, Kralik reveals to
Pirovitch that he's been corresponding anonymously with an intelligent
and cultured woman whose ad he came across in the newspaper.
Kralik is Mr. Matuschek's oldest and most trusted employee—just
invited to a dinner party at Matuschek's home—but lately there has been
tension between the two. They get into an argument over Mr. Matuschek's
idea to sell a cigarette box that plays "Ochi Chërnye"
when opened. Kralik thinks it's a bad idea. Although annoyed with
Kralik's stubbornness, Matuschek is reluctant to ignore his judgment.
After their exchange, Klara Novak (Margaret Sullavan)
enters the gift shop looking for a job. Kralik tells her there are no
openings, but when she is able to sell one of the cigarette boxes (as a
candy box), Mr. Matuschek hires her.
As Christmas approaches, Kralik is preparing to finally meet his
mystery correspondent for a dinner date. Planning to propose if the date
works out, Kralik requests a raise from Mr. Matuschek, who has not been
in a good mood for months. Forced to put up with the pesky Miss
Novak—the two simply cannot get along—Kralik is grateful that his
anonymous correspondent is nothing like her. He admits to Pirovitch that
he is nervous about meeting this "most wonderful girl in the world" for
the first time.
Kralik's planned meeting is interrupted when Mr. Matuschek demands
that everyone stay after work.
He and Kralik argue when Kralik mentions
his previous engagement. Later Kralik is called into Mr. Matuschek's
office—and is fired. No one in the shop understands Mr. Matuschek's
actions; they do not know that Mr. Matuschek suspects Kralik of having
an affair with his wife. Later, Mr. Matuschek meets with a private
investigator who informs him that his suspicions were correct, that his
wife is having an affair with one of his employees—Ferencz Vadas. Pepi
returns to the shop just in time to prevent the distraught Mr. Matuschek
from committing suicide.
Meanwhile, Kralik arrives at the Cafe Nizza, where he discovers that
his mystery woman, with the red carnation as planned, is in fact Klara
Novak. Despite his disappointment, Kralik goes in and talks with her,
pretending he is there to meet Pirovitch. In his mind, Kralik tries to
reconcile the cultured woman of his letters with his annoying
coworker—secretly hoping that things might work out with her. But
concerned that Kralik's presence will spoil her first meeting with her
"far superior" mystery correspondent, she calls Kralik a "little
insignificant clerk" and asks him to leave, and he does.
Later that night, Kralik goes to the hospital to visit Mr. Matuschek.
After apologizing for his behavior, Mr. Matuschek offers him a job as
manager of Matuschek and Company, gives him the keys to the shop, and
asks him to dismiss Vadas quietly. Kralik dismisses Vadas, loudly and
publicly, pushing Vadas across the shop floor into a pile of cigarette
boxes. Grateful to Pepi for saving his life, Mr. Matuschek promotes the
errand boy to clerk. The next day, Miss Novak calls in sick after her
mystery man failed to show. That night, Kralik visits her at her
apartment, where she reveals her problem to be "psychological". During
his visit, she receives a letter from her correspondent and reads it in
front of Kralik (who wrote the letter).
Two weeks later, on Christmas Eve, Matuschek and Company achieves
record sales. A grateful Mr. Matuschek gives everyone their bonuses and
sends them home early. Then, feeling lonely, he tries to get someone to
have dinner with him, but all the employees have other plans. Finally,
Rudy, the new errand boy who lives alone in the city, agrees. Kralik and
Miss Novak, now alone in the shop, talk about their planned dates for
the evening and Miss Novak reveals that she had a crush on Kralik when
they first met, back when she was "foolish and naive". After pretending
to have met Miss Novak's mystery man—whom he claims is overweight,
balding, and unemployed—Kralik puts a blue carnation in his lapel and
finally reveals to Miss Novak that he is in fact her mystery
correspondent—her "dear friend"—and they kiss.