Can The Shop Around the Corner Be Considered A Pride and Prejudice Adaption?

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
  • Should be put on my Non-Austen Films for Austen Fans
  • 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?

Hmm…?

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 Christmas and 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.

How sweet!

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.

Audiobook

So do you agree or disagree? Let me know in the comments below!

For more Non-Austen Films for Austen Fans, go to You Have Thirteen Hours in Which to Solve the Labyrinth, Before Your Baby Brother Becomes One of Us…Forever.: Labyrinth (1986)

For more Jane Austen Christmas adaptions, go to Is You’ve Got Mail Really an Adaption of Pride and Prejudice?

For more on Pride and Prejudice, go to Pride and Prejudice: The Game

For more Pride and Prejudice film adaptions, go to Dear William

Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe (2018)

So in 2018 I was gifted the book, Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe. I decided to wait and read it last year, 2019, and watch & review the film. I read it and hated it.

I planned to watch the film, but to be honest after that mess of a book I wasn’t too eager. The characters were horrible and mean, Darcy and Luke (Elizabeth) hardly even speak to each other…after reading this, I felt like a real Scrooge and had zero Christmas spirit.

Thank goodness for Yuletide, or my Christmas would have been dreadful.

So I skipped watching the film and kind of forgot about it until July. July is my blogiversary, and on Instagram I ask different Jane Austen related questions and post the results. I asked who was the worst Darcy on Instagram and this was one of them picked, the person said:

“OMG this was the worst film. This film and character had no relevance to Pride and Prejudice.”

So the film starts with Darcy Fitzwilliam (Lacey Chabert) giving a Christmas gift to her street coffee barista and they talk. She is excited t hear that his son got into Stanford and she wants to help invest his money. After watching that scene I was in shock.

Who is this person? She’s kind and caring…waaaaay different from the Darcy in the book.

Then we se her with her clients, kind and caring. She is going to help her mother with the Pemberly auction She’s helping her mom plan that and is actually excited about it and Christmas.

Who are you?

In the book she didn’t get along with her parent (father disowned her when she wouldn’t marry his choice) and only returned home because of a her mother having a heart attack. It’s nice to see this being a Christmas film, and Darcy is much more interesting instead of the book already.

Hmm…

So Darcy started the firm with Austin, and I wouldn’t trust her sounds to me like she is going to edge her out of the company.

So Darcy is coming home and her ex, Carl is going to be there. In this they had an amicable split and broke up a month ago. They sent Carl to pick her up as he still works fopr the company. Seems weird to me, why not call a car or get a taxi. But I think that they are trying to put them together.

Darcy’s parents.

So Darcy’s character is way better in this, not at all like the jerk in the book. In the book she just played with Carl’s feelings.

We then flash to Luke Bennet (Brendan Penny), a cook and caterer (in the book he was a handyman). Mrs. Fitzwilliam had to take over the Pemberley auction, and hires Luke as the caterer. Mom is really nice too, everyone seemed so mean in the Fitzwilliam household in the book. Much better in the film. I mean Darcy seems really close to her family, she has only mmissd two Christmases and saw her mom last month. In the book they hardly ever spend time together. This was a fun change.

Good job!

So they are going to auction off designer Christmas trees to help fund a children’s home and all are in a flutter because the previous person dropped out and they only have a few days until the event. Stress mode in overload.

Darcy’s friend Caylee (gender swap Charles Bingley) comes over for them to go out to dinner. Caylee’s new guy is Jim Bennet, who Darcy recognizes his name from his brother Luke Bennet who she used to fight with all the time. Jim Bennet is so sweet, and he is a great Jane.

They go out and Darcy and Luke run into each other. Luke is nice, but Darcy is a bit rude taking every compliment as an insult.

So Darcy and her dad have a great relationship, I actually see this as being similar to how Darcy and his father would be.

So back to the film, Luke is the caterer and both are surprised, oh Hallmark.

I like Luke. He comes to the house with a plan for the auction and some ideas, although Darcy is mad as she had a mapped out plan, but her mom likes Luke’s better. Luke is a bit of a jerk about the theme, seriously dude you already won, calm down.

So of course Darcy and Luke end up spending a lot of time together planning everything for the auction. They go out and pick up donations, meeting a lady who is also an interior decorator, they should totally hire her. But don’t? Maybe later? Weird of them to drop that and not follow through.

Hmm…

Carl, Darcy’s ex, sees Darcy and Luke laughing together, gets upset and sidetracks the conversation. Guys do their measuring up thing we always see, the most realistic part of any Hallmark movie.

So Darcy’s partner is trying to take over. She schedules all these partners meetings without Darcy-ha ha I thought so. Her father is very supportive and there for her, but Darcy is taken it all on her own.

Darcy goes out to the White Elephant party where Darcy unwraps an apron “I’ll Bake it, Yule eat it”. Hmm…Luke’s a caterer, I wonder when that will come into play?

Hmm…from Saboteur

Darcy talks to Luke and looks sad and tired, Luke offers to listen, and it is all very sweet. This is a much better plot than the book already. It doesn’t really seem to have anything to do with Pride and Prejudice, but at least it is more enjoyable than the book was.

Hmm…I’m starting to enjoy this.

Luke is going to take the trash out and Darcy runs into him, both under mistletoe.

Luke wants to kiss her, but Darcy declines.

Not okay.

Darcy’s brother Parker comes with a girl, fiance? Girlfriend? Wife? He’s a doctor and she is pregnant. This scene is cute as we see Darcy’s relationship with her brother, I’m glad as in the book she had like four brothers but no interaction with them.

So the auction is in peril again when the tree designer drops out. Mom calls Luke to pick the trees up and Darcy is mad because she was going to pick them up herself, girl have you ever carried a large Christmas tree? They heavy.

Darcy is upset with Luke but I think it is because she feels so out of control with what’s going on with work but it just comes off as rude. She tries to carry a tree by herself and knocks over several in lot. Oops.

From Clueless

We actually get good development between Darcy and Luke as she shares how she has so much to prove, feels so judged, that no one would think of her as serious at her father’s company etc.

Back at Darcy’s work they tell her they are keeping their decision of only expensive premiums in order to invest and Darcy can stay with that or leave the company. Way harsh.

Darcy goes to pick someting up, and sees the shop agin with the decorator and hires her and they pick up the supplies, calling Luke. Aw, Luke and Darcy are cute together. He invites Darcy to carol with him at Pemberley Square.

So something has to happen to waylay this little train. Is she going to insult him when she asks him out? Skip the ball, to go back to work? Get back with Carl?

Hmm…

They go caroling together with Darcy’s family. Darcy and Luke talk, sharing that his dad gave him his love and they were supposed to open a restaurant together, but he died before. So now he is continuing the dream with him.

From The Wolf Man (1941)

Caylee spots the two under the mistletoe, again. It is nice to see that mistletoe wasn’t just a cheeky title, but comes up multiple times. Darcy tells him he is every ounce who his dad is and kisses him. Aw!

How sweet!

That night they plan to decorate the tree and invite Luke to stay with them for the tree trimming. Darcy puts the tree topper on with help from Luke, aww.

How sweet!

I’m actually surprised they have such a little slender tree. They have a ton of money, you think they would have something spectacular.

Anyways, Darcy gets called away by her assistant, as Austin is poaching clients and trying to push her out. Darcy is down why as she rejects that she trusted them and Luke tells her it’s okay to put your trust in people. Awwww! So cute! They adorable.

Darcy and Luke go to the youth center and see all the good the charity ball gives. They even have a youth choir-oh they should totally sing at the event like in The Bishop’s Wife.

Luke after seeing the youth center decides to not collect a fee, just to pay for staff and food all else goes to the auction. What a nice guy. Too bad these Hallmark men don’t exist in real life. Darcy comes up with a new name for Luke’s restaurant, Luke’s Table. Meh. Luke’s sounds better, but maybe they can’t because of copyright infringement.

Hmm…

So George, his lady, Darcy, Luke, Mom, Dad, Carl, and Charlotte all work together to get everything finished in time. Everyone reaches out to Darcy, even Carl, but she doesn’t tell anyone what is going on. She should really talk to someone, like her dad.

Speaking of which, that night Darcy and her dad share a moment over Luke’s pie. Her dad again tries to encourage her to talk.

The next day Darcy comes to help Luke and he is the only one working on it, he doesn’t have any staff? They are so cute together and look Darcy is wearing the apron she won.

How sweet!

The two have a much better relationship than in the book and I can believe that they are falling in love.

Caylee tries to encourage Darcy to continue things with Luke, but Darcy is like nah-she doesn’t think Luke is interested.

It’s super obvious!

Caylee also encourages Darcy, like her father did, that maybe she needs a new job and location.

The staff are unable to come to the event, so they end up filling in and having the kids serve, and of course sing, I knew that one too. That night Darcy and Luke are cute together, they each compliment each other and are no longer arguing with each other.

Darcy is trying to reach one of her clients and he shows up to the event. He tells her integrity matters more than anything else and he will stay with her as his investor wherever she goes. Darcy can finally relax and focus on the event.

Darcy is dancing with Luke and about to tell him how she feels, when she is interrupted by Carl. He shares his feelings and bows out. Okay, so no big fight to separate Darcy and Luke?

Hmmm…

Luke sees them and thinks they are back together. Ugh, they went the misunderstanding/eavesdropping mode.

It’s super obvious!

Darcy decides to quit the company she created, as they don’t want her either and talks to her father about coming on board with his company. Darcy then goes to look for Luke but can’t find him. She runs into Caylee who tells her Luke thinks she is with her ex. Darcy searches for Luke but can’t find him, neither can Caylee and Jim.

That’s not good.

She runs outside, and it turns out he didn’t leave but was talking to a future client. They end the film under the mistletoe, Luke knows what it means and Darcy kisses him for real.

So was this better than the book?

Yes, this was a thousand million times better. That book was a solid mess, but this was an actual cute Christmas movie with solid development between the leads. You liked the characters in this, while in the book I hated everyone.

Was this a good Christmas movie?

This was a cute Hallmark film. I mean you know what is going to happen, you know the story-but it wasn’t bad. The characters had good chemistry, it was funny, there are a few places that are a tad cheesy or too predictable, but if you are looking for a sweet, reliable Christmas film this is a good one to watch.

Was this a good Pride and Prejudice film?

NO. While this was better than the book and a cute Christmas film, it is not a good Christmas Pride and Prejudice film. This has nothing to do with the plot of Pride and Prejudice, the characters resemble very little to the Austen characters, along with the plot. If you want a good holiday Jane Austen film The 12 Men of Christmas or Love at the Thanksgiving Day Parade would be a better choice.

For more Pride and Prejudice, go to Marrying Mr. Darcy Card Game: The Pride and Prejudice Card Game

For more Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe, go to Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe

For more Pride and Prejudice variations, go to The Matters at Mansfield (Or, The Crawford Affair)

For more films based on Jane Austen, go to Are You Prepared to Encounter All of Its Horrors?…Let’s Just Say That All Houses Have Their Secrets, and Northanger is No Exception.: Northanger Abbey (2007)

For more Jane Austen variations, go to Hart of Dixie’s Jane Austen Scene