This is a little different than my usual Non-Austen Films for Austen Fans as I really only recommend this one particular episode, rather than the complete series. And because it is just one episode of the series, I need to lay a little background.
Sweet Valley High was a book series I started reading in the fifth grade. As I kid I really liked the series and wanted to live in their idealic and exciting Californian world. As an adult I know they are not the best written book series. Most of them are cheesy, silly, and sometimes don’t make any sense; but these were the ’80s-’90s versions of Gossip Girl or One Tree Hill except with a different type of drama. The thing I really can’t get over is how “morally superior” Elizabeth acts even though at times she is worse than Jessica.
But I digress. The book series follows twin sisters, Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield. Both are juniors in high school, blonde, 5’6, and size sixes. Elizabeth is the smart, responsible one who dreams of being a journalist or writer; while Jessica is the fashionable, cheerleader, social butterfly, that dreams of parties and popularity.
They live in Sweet Valley, near Los Angeles, and attend school with their friends. The first few books focused on the two girls and the people they interacted with, but the later ones were divided into two stories: story A about a friend or relative and story B on the twins. Starting at Book 95 the series became split up into mini arcs with 3-5 books following one particular storyline. Around Book 80 the series got a bit darker with the topics ranging from drugs, school dances, serial killers, sports competitions, werewolves, princes, vampires, kidnapping, stalkers, a face/off face swapping resort, etc. You know normal teenage girl stuff.
Because of their popularity the books were turned into a TV series in the ‘90s which sort-of-not-really followed the book series. As a fan it was fun to watch, although the stories weren’t always accurate, and it was my first introduction to Jensen Ackles.
This episode comes along in season three. Elizabeth developed a crush on her coworker at her internship at the Sweet Valley News, and dumps Todd (only to find out that the guy was a jerk). The two got back together, only to break up when Todd tries to make extra money accepting some pay-for-play in basketball. Meanwhile, Jessica was dating a rock musician, A.J. and advances his career by getting his music played on the radio which causes musicians to invite them to tour. A. J. wants Jessica to go with him but she declined as she doesn’t want to live her life focused only on him.
In this particular episode, story A focuses on Elizabeth and Todd. Elizabeth is helping her friend Enid get ready for her family reunion and accidentally admits over the student announcements that she is still into Todd. Todd tries to win her back, as he was already planning on it, but Elizabeth is not as open to it as she thinks he is only doing it to show off to everyone.
Story B is the one that I am interested in for this review. Jessica is still getting over A.J and has been spending all her time reading (something she never does for fun) her “new” favorite romantic book, The Silos of Billings, Montana.
The book is about a handsome photographer who is looking to photograph grain silos. Like every romance the photographer is the perfect man, and for once Jessica is not interested in dating any guys, as this fictional one is the only one she wants to see.
In the middle of a reread the doorbell rings and who should it be but a gorgeous photographer named Brad looking to photograph silos.
I always thought this was hilarious as Sweet Valley never seemed to be a farming community. I mean the Fowlers and Morrows has computer chip and computer factories; so it seems odd he’d be in Sweet Valley. I do forgive Jessica for not being logical in this as Brad is played by Jensen Ackles.
Yes, that amazingly handsome man not only stops on her doorstep, but also gets her phone number.
Later Jessica is upset that she hasn’t heard from Brad when Elizabeth tells her that a romantic note was left on their jeep inviting Jessica to a picnic. Jessica is over the moon to date Brad and who wouldn’t? Look at him.
Jessica is also doubly excited as it turns out this exact thing happened in her favorite book. Yes, her life has turned into her favorite novel.
The picnic is just as romantic as she dreamed it to be, wiht Brad serving all the romantic food that was eaten in the novel. Everything is perfect…
The next day Brad brings over the photos he took at the picnic and Jessica is disappointed that he didn’t develop them himself and that they turn out to be blurry. He also invites her out to a party. Typically good looks are all Jessica cares about, but she’s actually a little disappointed that Brad isn’t exactly like the novel.
The party turns out to be a big surprise as it is Enid’s family reunion. Enid has a lot of interesting cousins, one of which is Brad. Brad’s interesting characteristic is that when he reads a book he loves, he becomes the main character in the book, living his life just as they do. He had just finished reading The Silos of Billings Montana, loved it, and decided to be it.
Strangely Jessica is freaked out at the thought of dating Enid’s cousin, something true fans know isn’t true as again all they need to be is hot for her to date them, and instead Jessica takes off.
I think you might have guessed why I recommend this episode for Jane Austen fans. This reminds me a lot of Northanger Abbey with real life “mimicking” a novel, the effect reading novels can have on people, etc. Brad in a lot of ways is similar to both Mr. Tilney and Catherine Morland.
I also always thought that Brad would be someone fun to date as he would want to mimic fictional characters. Like imagine how great it would be if he read your favorite book? And wanted to be that character? Just make sure he doesn’t read a book wiht a character you hate.
But yes, a fun silly episode for fans of Northanger Abbey.
So after you watch every single version of Jane Austen movies, what do you have to watch next?
That’s why I started this list, to have non-Austen films that Austen fans can enjoy.
And since it is Christmas Eve, why not a Christmas Non-Austen Film for Austen Fans?
Eve (Lana McKissack) and Lacey (Kimberly Daugherty) are sisters; Eve loves Christmas and Christmas films, while Lacey is not a fan of either. Both of them aren’t having a wonderful Christmas as Lacey was ghosted by another jerk, Eve’s boss doesn’t know her name and won’t consider her for graphic design, and the heat is broken in their apartment.
This Christmas Eve, Eve tries to add more Christmas spirit in the apartment to the chagrin of her older sister, and it accidentally blows the lights. With a cold and dark apartment the two sisters decide to instead go out and look at the Christmas lights. As they do, they run into a Santa with a red kettle and Eve makes a wish that she could have a Christmas movie Christmas.
The next day the girls wake up in a strange picturesque town, a cute little cottage, with an adorable elderly woman who claims to be their grandmother. Yes, they are now in a Christmas Movie!
Eve immediately takes to this and loves it, with three possible “Christmas movie” plots to choose from. Lacey, on the other hand, doesn’t like the silly town and all the free stuff she is getting (why? I’m not sure).
Eve ends up choosing move plotline number three, the ruined Christmas Festival. She teams up with the local innkeeper Dustin (played by the handsome Ryan Merriman). The two grow closer as they plot a way to fix everything on a budget, while Eve also discovers that she is dating the international pop star by none other than Eve’s favorite actor Chad Matthew Munroe (Randy Wayne).
Everything is going great until Dustin’s ex Noelle, comes to town and tries to win him back; along with her messing up all their plans for the festival. Will Eve be able to fix everything in time? Will she be able to choose her perfect leading man or end up with no one?
Meanwhile, the realistic Lacey is having a hard time living in a “picture perfect movie” town. While Eve blossoms, doing well at everything and experiencing the “Christmas movie Christmas”; Lacey does not. She visits a bakery one day and meets the baker Paul (Brant Daugherty), who’s cute and wants to be her friend-or boyfriend if he’ll let her. He makes her cute cards, and tries to bring her into the “Christmas movie Christmas” fun. Will Lacey try something different and join the Christmas fun, or will she remain a Christmas scrinch (Scrooge + Grinch)?
I really enjoyed this film and it reminded me a lot of Sense and Sensibility. Both havesisterswhere the elder one (Lacey and Elinor) are realistic and sensible, while the younger sister (Eve and Marianne) are romantic and pulled into things by their feelings.
Like Marianne, Eve also has two men interested in her. One of them is very romantic, shallow, and seems like her dream guy; while the other love interest is deep, makes his interest known from the beginning, and also is a romantic character.
Besides that this film is fun and full of Holiday cheer. It laughingly uses all the different Christmas movie tropes and is enjoyable from beginning to end. I strongly recommend it.
If interested, this film is on tubi and YouTube.
Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you all have a wonderful holiday!
Are you gonna keep on with your detective work then? I retired. I’m just going to take care of my wife’s money, so I’ll have something in my old age. You said you’d retired in New York; but, I noticed you took that Thin Man case. Oh, that Thin Man was a beaut! They’re still talking about it. Pick us up another Thin Man, will ya Nick?
It’s time for another Thin Man Thursday!
As I have said before, I LOOOOVE The Thin Man series! The characters, the pacing, the mystery, everything is amazing. It’s a perfect blend of mystery, comedy, drama, and film noir. And out of all The Thin Man films, this is my favorite. All because of this gorgeous and talented man:
Yep, this film has Jimmy Stewart in it, my favorite actor. But enough fangirling, let’s get on to the review!
As seen at the end of the previous film, the Charles couple is making their way to California, where they live now. They arrive in San Francisco on New Year’s Eve and receive a call from Nora’s aunt Catherine. And before you ask, yes even though this Aunt Matherine isn’t the Lady Catherine in Pride and Prejudice they are basically the same woman.
I never noticed this connection until last year when MadsenCreations and I participated in Noirvember and watched a Noir film every day.
Aunt Katherine hates that her socialite blue blood niece married a detective, the anger at allowing such degradation to the family name is only equalled by Lady Catherine’s anger over the marriage of Darcy and Elizabeth.
In Pride and Prejudice, Lady Catherine completely controls her daughter Anne’s life, and Anne is rather sickly and without personality. In this Aunt Katherine is equally as controlling of her daughter, Selma. Selma has anxiety, is often hysterical, and has had fits of blackouts when she is in a frenzied state (doesn’t surprise me with the way her mother treats her).
Selma is married, but the man she chose was nothing but a bounder; something Katherine constantly brings up. However, the lout has been missing and Lady Catherine, I mean Aunt Katherine, and Selma ask if Nick can take up the case. Well, Selma asks-Aunt Katherine demands.
Nick doesn’t want to, but Nora convinces him to give it a shot. As Nick starts questing people, David Graham (played by Jimmy Stewart) arrives. He is Selma’s friend and former fiancé and had offered to give Robert $25,000 ($490,000 in 2021 dollars) to divorce Selma and leave. That’s the last he ever saw of him.
Let me pause and say again that I love Jimmy Stewart (and would have picked him over Robert any day). At this time it would have been easy for Jimmy Stewart to stay in just one mold of chracter, but when you watch this you really see his full range and how amazing of an actor he is.
Nick ends up discovering that Robert likes to hand out at the LiChi Club, a Chinese nightclub. While all this detecting and hysterics have been going on, Robert has been relaxing at the LiChi Club as he likes the dancing. In fact he likes one dancer in particular, as he is having an affair with one of the dance girls, Polly. Polly is tired of being the “other woman” and tells Robert she is done unless he leaves his wife. Robert doesn’t want to lose Polly and agrees to end it with Selma, trying to get his final “paycheck” from David. Nick and Nora find him at the club (and he is none too happy about that). Nora tried to appeal to his heart but Robert is cold as ice. He reminds me an Austen character, only after money and doing whatever he can to get it.
He tells the two he will be taking David up on his offer and get out of the crazy family and his crazy wife. (what a Wickham).
Quick side bar, I’m sure by now you have realized I recommend this movie for Jane Austen fans.
Back to the story. Unbeknownst to Robert, Polly can’t stand him. She is only with him as she and the club owner Dancer plan to rob Robert after he gets the money from David. To further add another player to this drama: Polly’s crook of a brother is back in town and he wants a cut.
Robert gets paid off and goes home to pick up his clothes, where he runs into Selma. Selma is hysterical about him leaving, and begs him not to go. Robert insults her and heads out, followed by Selma who is armed with a gun. As Robert walks through the foggy night we see that not only Selma is out there but we also see Lum Kee (from the club), Dancer, and Polly. A mysterious figure approaches Robert, but because of the fog we cannot make out who it is. The mysterious figure draws a gun and a shot cries out, with Robert dead. But which one did it? Or could it be someone else? Aunt Katherine?
Selma is arrested as she has the most reasons to murder Robert and they can’t test her gun as it turns out David threw it away (he was afraid she killed Robert and was hoping it would keep her from being indicted for murder).
We have several suspects and it’s up to Nick and Nora to discover who the killer is. Could it be the mistress? The mistress’ boyfriend? The former fiancé? The angry mother-in-law? Mistress’ brother? Or is Selma lying and she is the murderer?
A really great film and one I highly recommend. I will not give away the ending as it is too good!
I grew up watching Beetlejuice secretly as my mother hated the titular character. I did watch the TV show, as she didn’t mind that as much but I haven’t seen the actual film in a very long time.
So I was thinking, what better way to start off Horrorfest than to cross off a “Tim Burton” film off my list of things to review with Beetlejuice (1988).
We start off the film with Adam Maitland (Alec Baldwin) releasing a giant spider outside. How is he not freaked out? It’s GIANT! So weird .
Anyways, Barbara (Geena Davis) and Adam Maitland are a couple happy to spend their vacation fixing up their country house (to each their own). Barbara’s cousin Jane comes to visit and is trying to sell their home as she has had some really great offers from a city couple but Barb and Adam say no. Really Jane?
If Jane was my cousin we would no longer be on speaking terms. I can’t believe she’s actually sending photos of her cousin’s house to people to try and sell it; that’s right selling a home she doesn’t even OWN! Then she gives a mean dig about Barbara’s miscarriages. RUDE!
As I was watching this, I started thinking cousin Jane reminds me of someone…but who? Then it hit me! Cousin Jane is so much like Mrs. Elton from Emma. I mean think about it: believe she knows everything, makes little dogs to others, writing to find Jane Fairfax a position when she was asked not to! Cousin Jane is Mrs. Elton!
Later the Maitlands go out driving to pick up more supplies for their model town. As cousin Jane clunkly inferred, the Maitlands have tried to have a child to no success and Adam has made the model town his “baby”. When they are driving home they swerve to miss a dog that runs into the road and find themselves dead.
They two don’t realize they are dead at first, until Adam tries to leave the house and they discover that if he does they will be killed by sand worms. They then discover some other odd things like the fact that they no longer have a reflection and a copy of The Handbook for the Recently Deceased. At first they choose to ignore it and try to continue their lives but the house has been sold to a new family, the Deetz Family. Charles Deetz (Jeffrey Jones) is a former real estate developer; his wife Delia (Catherine O’ Hara) is a sculptor; and Lydia (Winona Ryder), daughter from his first marriage, is a goth and an aspiring photographer.
The Maitlands try to scare them out as ghosts do, but Charles and Delia don’t even blink and eye. The Deetz family has their own issues. Charlies recently suffered from a nervous breakdown, his anxiety is off the charts; Delia and Lydia snipe at each other at every turn, and no one seems happy.
The Maitlands hang out in the only space that the Deetz can’t get to, their attic. But after Jane stops by to drop off a skeleton key, that’s the first place Lydia wants to head to. She tries to get in, but they keep pushing her out.
The actor who plays Charles, Jeffrey Jones, usually plays terrible characters, but this is the first one I can think of that I actually liked and connected to. He wants to relax, wishes everyone would give him peace, tries to birdwatch but stops as birds are terrible (I don’t like birds), and instead starts looking at everyone’s houses and using his real estate agent eye to inspect them.
Meanwhile, the Maitlands having finally started reading their Handbook for the Recently Deceased, (which contains an ad for Betelgeuse) have crossed over to the afterlife and find it to be a DMV of a horror waiting room. I love all the different “deaths” of the characters waiting. It’s like a mini A Thousand Ways to Die with every “death” you can imagine. The special effects, prosthetics, costumes, etc. are amazing. They really deserved winning that award.
In the afterlife all their who are the DMV-esque caseworkers are those who die by suicide (as seen the Miss Argentina who slit her wrists, the guy who stepped into traffic, and the man hanging). The Maitlands discover that they must haunt the house for 125 years, or else, and return home to try and remove the Deetzs. The Maitlands want to try and hire Beetlejuice, but their caseworker Juno warns against him as he’s a troublemaker and tells them to study their book. She also warns them he is hanging out in their town’s model cemetery and saying his name three times will summon him.
The Maitlands try to do the work and scare the Deetz family but are not at all successful as Charles just thinks Lydia is messing around, Delia is knocked out on Valium so it doesn’t even register to her, and Lydia thinks the “haunting” is her dad and stepmom trying to roam the house in sheets as some kind of weird sex.
When Lydia does realize they are real ghosts she isn’t scared at all, as a goth girl she has seen a ton of horror films and is not easily frightened. Instead she charges full speed ahead at this supernatural spooky phenomenon, remind you of anyone? (Like Catherine Morland from Northanger Abbey?)
Adam: Well, how is it you see us and nobody else can?
Lydia: Well, I’ve read through that handbook for the recently deceased. It says: ‘live people ignore the strange and unusual”. I myself am strange and unusual.
But seriously, Lydia and Catherine Morland are so similar. They both love gothic and spooky things, their parents don’t understand them, they are both a bit naive, and they like trying to investigate (Catherine Mrs. Tilney’s room and Lydia the attic).
I love how nerdy and not scary the Maitlands are. Like when Alec Baldwin calls the two “ghoulish creatures” it is so hard to not laugh at him. Ghoulish? Really?
The Maitlands decide to “cheat” and try to hire the bio-exorcist to remove the humans, Betelgeuse (Michael Keaton). They say his name three times and find themselves transported to the model town Adam built and dig Betelgeuse up. It’s pretty amazing how they take someone as handsome and charming as Michael Keaton and make him so perverted and oafish. To me Betelgeuse is the equivalent of having to spend your time with Mr. Wattlesbrook from Austenland.
Keaton originally didn’t want the role as he didn’t understand what exactly was asked of him. He only agreed after Tim Burton took him to see Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure. I imagine he said he wanted a crude and pervy Pee-Wee. (Ironic as how a couple of years after this film pervert would be used to describe Pee-Wee).
Betelgeuse is extremely gross in his behavior. He also looks very odd as if he is a man out of time. Apprantly Michael Keaton came up with not only 90% of the dialogue but much of the character’s look himself; he told the makeup department he wanted a moldy face, electric shocked hair, and clothes from all different time periods.
Like I mentioned before Betelgeuse is an extremely gross individual, basically a human fart and Barbara does NOT want to have him in their house or around Lydia. Barbara decides to send him back home and comes up with her own idea to get rid of the Deetz family. The two possess a Deetz dinner party and force them and their guests to sing and dance to “Day-O” by Harry Belefonte. It is a truly strange and fantastical scene. At the end their plate of shrimps reach out as arms and and grab everyone’s faces.
Tim Burton thought this scene wouldn’t go over well, but turned out to be wrong as it is one of the most remembered scenes from the entire film.
Instead of scaring the away the Deetz family, all this does is make Charles want to turn the house and town into a supernatural tourist trap. In fact all at the dinner party enjoyed it and see it as entrainment not fright.
The Maitlands are at their wit’s end and decide they need help and bring Betelgeuse into play. He decides to step up the scaring and we have one of the creepiest scenes in the whole film, Betelgeuse becomes a snake. It is truly terrifying, those eyes! This scene had been filmed before Michael Keaton was cast as Betelgeuse, so some additional film was shot for the scene using a layer to make it look more like him.
Lydia gets mad at the Maitlands as she saw them as friends and them hiring Betelgeuse has broken her trust in them.
The Maitlands are angry as they don’t want Betelgeuse to hurt the Deetzs, they just want him to scare them away. They say his name three times again and send him back to the model town that Adam built in the attic. Betelgeuse is really upset with their criticism, but decides to party and heads to a strip club in town. I do not remember that scene at all and Adam doesn’t even remember making it.
The Maitlands get called to the DMV and Juno reads them the riot act. They have seriously screwed up as ghosts; befriending Lydia, being photographed, losing their handbook, letting out Betelgeuse, etc. Their caseworker made the strip club to distract Betelgeuse until everything can be straightened out. Juno won’t let them return home until they show her their creepy plan, this scene was always the one stamped in my brain. Terrifying!
Back at the house, Charles starts second guessing his decision to move there and even his plans for the tourist town. Lydia is really depressed and contemplates suicide. Before she takes her life, Lydia goes up to the attic to talk to the Maitlands and finds Betelgeuse who tries to convince her to free him by saying his name three times. I remember my friends and I would do this all the time and we were always disappointed when nothing would happen. Lydia is stopped from freeing him by the return of the Maitlands who dissuade her from trying to commit suicide. They also have decided to give up scaring the Deetzs and try to live in harmony.
Charles tries to pitch his idea of a horror town, but his boss is not impressed. But even without “real ghosts”, I’m with Charles! This is a money maker idea! There are so many that would love to go to a Horrortown. I know I would.
Charles’ boss demands proof and they have Otto (the interior designer) perform a seance, but unfortunately he actually starts exorcising them instead. As they are fading away, dying forever this time, Lydia is heartbroken to see the only people who really “get her” “dying” and begs Betelgeuse for help. He agrees, but only if Lydia marries him.
Now why would a centuries old ghost want to get married to a 14-year old? Its not because she is a little girl, but because he wants to be tethered to the mortal world. If he married a mortal, then he will not have to go back to the afterlife but can remain above ground forever. Seeing it as the only way to save her friends, Lydia agrees.
So this next scene wben Betelgeuse comes with the Carousel head and the arms that stretch I’m pretty sure one of my friends had that toy. Like it was crazy how much merchandise there was after this film came out. I think the TV show helped with it, but it was literally everywhere.
To be fair even though Betelgeuse is totally rotten, at least he honors his business contract. He saves the Maitlands and gets rid of all the interlopers. He also changes to a snazzy red suit, gets Lydia a gown, ties up her parents (but brings them to the wedding), and brings in a monster minister.
Keaton is just a phenomenal actor in this, with exaggerated lines and true comedic timing, just perfect.
All try to stop the wedding, but Betelgeuse stops them. But no matter what, Barbara keeps trying. Like he zips her mouth shut, she opens it. When Betelgeuse bolts it, she tries to remove the bolt. When Betelgeuse sends her away, Barbara comes riding in on a sandworm that consumes Betelgeuse and sends him back to the afterlife. Barb is the real MVP.
Time passes and the Deetz family and the Maitlands live in harmony; Lydia loving her new extended family, the Maitlands love having a child to parent, and Charles finally gets the peace he’s been after.
Betelgeuse having “died” again must wait his DMV turn, getting his head shrunk when he tries to cut in line. Oh that Betelgeuse!
So after watching this post Jane Austen I have concluded cousin Jane is totally Mrs. Elton, Lydia is Catherine Morland, and Beetlejuice is Mr. Wattlesbrook. Agree? Disagree? Comment below!
Also with the Austen connection, I guess this should go on my Non-Austen Films for AustenFans and Catherine Morland’s Viewing List? What day you? Yay or nay?
Two years ago I read an article on Nora Ephron and in the article she shared that she is a big fan of Pride and Prejudice and when she wrote You’ve Got Mail, she made it a loose adaption of Jane Austen’s novel. I was surprised when I read that as I don’t see the two being that much alike and last year I decided to finally review You’ve Got Mail and determine whether it:
Should be considered an adaption of Pride and Prejudice
Needs to be excluded from the Jane Austen multiverse/canon altogether?
After rewatching You’ve Got Mail I ended up deciding that it is most definitely not an adaption of Pride and Prejudice and I personally don’t feel like it should belong in the Jane Austen canon/multiverse.
But while this film is not a good candidate, what about the film You’ve Got Mail is a remake of? Could The Shop Around the Corner be considered?
The Shop Around the Corner is not lifted from Jane Austen but a Hungarian play, Parfumerie. It has been made adapted many times: The Shop Around the Corner (1940) and You’ve Got Mail (1998) being only two of them. But just because it wasn’t taken specifically from Jane Austen, doesn’t mean it cannot be included in the canon. After all, The 12 Men of Christmasand Love at the Thanksgiving Day Parade aren’t “official” Austen adaptions, but the similarities are close enough that I include them.
Let’s begin with a quick summary of the story of Pride and Prejudice. Pride and Prejudice is about a mother, Mrs. Bennet, wanting to marry off her daughters as quickly as possible, as with their father’s death they will have very little. Two men move to their community that Mrs. Bennet is intent on harpooning, no matter what. One, Mr. Bingley, falls for the elder daughter, Jane, while the other man, Mr. Darcy, is overheard insulting the second daughter, Elizabeth, by Elizabeth herself. (Ouch!) Elizabeth is wounded and when she hears a tale about how horrible Mr. Darcy is from a handsome charming man, she readily believes it. She later discovers there is more to both these men than meets the eye; as the story deals with the concepts of pride and prejudice, first impressions, whether you should be overt in how you feel or play it close to the heart, etc. It has amazing wit and characters.
The Shop Around the Corner takes place in Budapest in the shop Matuschek, and focuses mostly on two of the employees: Alfred Kralik (Jimmy Stewart) and Klara Novak (Margaret Sullavan). Mr. Kralik is Mr. Matuschek’s oldest and best employee, the two often having more of a father-son relationship than a employer-employee. One day they are having a summer sale and a woman, Klara, comes in wanting a job as she has just been let go from her previous one. Mr. Kralik dissuades her from trying as they are not hiring, but Klara manipulates Mr. Matuschek into hiring her (she’s a really good saleswoman.) After this the two are constantly at odds as Klara is rude to Mr. Kralik, makes fun of him, and is always surly. After this treatment, Mr. Kralik does not care for Klara, and treats her with an equally surly, but professional, attitude. Meanwhile, months earlier Mr. Kralik had started writing to an anonymous woman for friendship and to to discuss literature. Over time the two have switched from literary topics to love and have fallen for each other. When Mr. Kralik goes to meet his letter lady, he discovers it is his work nemesis, Klara. When he goes in to see her, Klara dresses him down and Mr. Kralik starts wondering about his behavior. As the two continue to work side by side, Mr. Kralik tries to show Klara another side of him, hoping to win her heart as she has already captured his.
Even though this isn’t a true adaption of Pride and Prejudice, in every way it is so much closer to an adaption then it’s later remake, You’ve Got Mail.
First of all the interactions between the two leads in The Shop Around the Corner, is much more similar to Pride and Prejudice then You’ve Got Mail. In Pride and Prejudice Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy meet at a ball and Elizabeth is very attracted to him, but later dislikes him when he says she is tolerable but not handsome enough for him. Klara also later admits in the film that when she first met Mr. Kralik she was very attracted to him, but changed her mind when he didn’t react to her the way she had hoped. Also like Elizabeth, Klara too believes lies about the male lead’s character, told to her by another employee, Ferencz Vadas.
Mr. Darcy on the other hand, didn’t really think anything of Elizabeth, as he considered all in the area to be below his notice. Later, after spending time with her when Jane is ill at Netherfield he falls for her wit and beauty. With Mr. Kralik when he first meets Klara he doesn’t like her or dislike her, he does try to help her find work by suggesting other places she could try, but he’s mostly preoccupied with his own work. Like Darcy the wit and intelligence is what gets him, as he too falls for his lady through the mind first, this case in her letters.
While there are more things at play in the film the springboard for all their fights seem to be in this moment when Mr. Kralik tries to dissuade her from applying for a job (as they don’t have any openings) while Klara not only manipulates Mr. Matuschek into hiring her, but buying worthless items they later aren’t able to sell (what Mr. Kralik had said from the beginning.)
Jimmy Stewart’s character Mr. Kralik is also more like Mr. Darcy than Tom Hanks’ Joe Fox. Joe Fox was cruel, abrasive, insulting, and rude. We see him sweet to his little kid aunt and brother but he never has a place or people he seems to fully relax, like Darcy does with Pemberley and his staff there. In The Shop Around the Corner, Kralik is very decisive, focused, has a tough exterior and can come off cold; but to those who know him, he is has a more relaxed side. We see that with his close friend Pirovitch, and then later when he hears how he is perceived by others from Klara, and tries to be less cold and curt.
Unlike Kathleen, who is not at all like Elizabeth, (having a lack of wit, obstinance, headstrongness, or initiative); Klara is very witty, strong willed, does not shy away from situations or people, is confident, and bold enough to give Mr. Kralik several dressing downs.
I really like the interaction between Mr. Kralik and Klara at the cafe. In the film the two letter writers are supposed to meet up, but Mr. Kralik ends up losing his job (a subplot is that Mr. Matuschek thinks Mr. Kralik is messing around with his wife, but he isn’t). Mr. Kralik isn’t planning on going to see her as he’s feeling depressed, but his friend convinces him to go and when he finds out it is Klara who always makes work unpleasant, he’s not pleased. At the cafe he plans to tell her his identity, her letter lover, but words are thrown around by both and Klara really let’s him know how she feels:
Alfred Kralik: There might be a lot we don’t know about each other. You know, people seldom go to the trouble of scratching the surface of things to find the inner truth.
Klara Novak: Well I really wouldn’t care to scratch your surface, Mr. Kralik, because I know exactly what I’d find. Instead of a heart, a hand-bag. Instead of a soul, a suitcase. And instead of an intellect, a cigarette lighter… which doesn’t work.
Alfred Kralik: Well, that’s very nicely put. Yes, comparing my intellect with a cigarette lighter that doesn’t work. That’s a very interesting mixture of… poetry and meanness.
The Shop Around the Corner (1940)
After hearing this, Mr. Kralik takes time to self reflect and realizes that he wants to change how he is perceived by others. Now he has no plans to see Klara again, as he’s been fired, and is not quite sure what to do with the letter writing issue (as it appears she can’t stand him). However, when Mr. Matuschek discovers that he was wrong and a different employee was sleeping with his wife, he becomes so disheartened about everything that he planned to kil himself. Mr. Matuschek is stopped by Pepe the errand boy, and decides to step back from the to recuperate, calling Mr. Kralik, and hiring him back to take over the store. Now Mr. Kralik takes what was said to him by Klara and tries to be be not so cold and distant, while at the same time he also doesn’t try to show off and convince Klara or show her he’s changed-he just makes those changes.
This is much more similar to Mr. Darcy and the way he reacts to Elizabeth’s words. Mr. Darcy too took what was said, improved himself, and also never planned to interact with Elizabeth again. They only cross paths by accident and then later when he goes to support Bingley. When Bingley and Jane are engaged and he is invited to the Bennet’s home and card parties, he never tries to show off that she should be with him, he doesn’t try to take her aside, etc. He respects her wishes and only approaches her again after Lady Catherine’s rude visit and Elizabeth’s lack of promise not to marry him causes him to hope again. But even then, he tells her still cares but if she doesn’t feel that way he understands and will never speak of the matter again.
In contrast, Joe Fox is nothing like Mr, Darcy or Mr. Kralik as he not only makes it his mission to constantly run into Kathleen, but also uses his online persona and in-person persona to manipulate her.
Klara sees this change in him and realizes that she was misjudging him; and at the same time she does her own self reflection and realizes that she didn’t treat him as well as she could and a lot of their issues were caused by both sides.
So while it’s not a perfect adaption, I feel this one definitely is more of an adaption of Pride and Prejudice than You’ve Got Mail.
But while it is better than You’ve Got Mail, should it be considered a Jane Austen adaption?
After careful consideration I think not. It was very close, but it’s missing something else to really put it in the Pride and Prejudice camp. I will, however, highly recommend it for any Jane Austen fan and it will be going on my list of Non-Austen Films for Austen Fans due to its similarities and because it is an amazing film. I love it so much, I have to watch it every December at least once.
It is so romantic and I just adore how they falling in love over letters. I cannot recommend this film more. You are guaranteed to not only enjoy it but want to keep watching it again and again.
So do you agree or disagree? Let me know in the comments below!