The Shop Around the Corner


Romantic drama in which a man and woman unknowingly exchange letters with each other whilst working in the same shop.

About the film

The film is directed by Ernst Lubitsch, who was very well known for directing Hollywood comedies in the 1920s, ‘30s and ‘40s. The film is regarded today as a classic of the period, and was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being ‘culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.’

Information about the film's content

The film was first seen by the BBFC for cinema release in the UK in 1940, and passed U, meaning suitable for all. 

The rating was upheld when the film was classified on video in 1999, and again a for cinema re-release in 2010. Though it was noted that the film contained no material likely to offend or harm, the BBFC produced the following ratings info to advise viewers of the film’s content:

‘There is an implied attempted suicide by a store owner after learning of his wife's apparent infidelity, with the sound of a gunshot off screen. However, the character returns to health and is unharmed.

Although neither glamorised nor promoted, there are frequent scenes in which characters smoke cigarettes or cigars. In another scene, a man pushes his co-worker against a shelving unit in frustration.’

Discussion Points
  • Did you enjoy the film? How did the film make you feel? Were there any bits of the story that you didn't like? Who was your favourite character?
  • Did you learn anything from the film? If so, what?
  • What do you think the film has to say about love and relationships?
  • Why do you think Kralik and Klara find it easier to open up to one another and connect through their letters than in person?
  • Though the film is set in Hungary, how do you think it can be seen to address the economic hardships Americans were suffering during the 1940s? Consider that the film was produced and released at the time of the Second World War.
  • How do you think people might view the film differently today to when it was first released in the 1940s? Do you think it has ‘dated’ at all? In what ways?
  • Have you seen any similar films from the period? How do they compare to more modern romantic comedies? In terms of humour, setting, style, characters, performance, etc.
  • The film has been remade twice, most recently as the Tom Hanks/Megan Ryan romantic comedy You’ve Got Mail in 1998. What do you think it is about the story that is so enduring?
  • Do you think U is the right age rating for the film? What issues were in it? Were there any you thought might be difficult for younger children to understand?
Further Reading and Viewing

Films: The Philadelphia Story (1940) BBFC U; The Apartment (1960) BBFC PG; In the Good Old Summertime (1949) BBFC U; You’ve Got Mail (1998) BBFC PG