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Thanks! -- Arnie Perlstein, Portland, OR

Sunday, July 21, 2013

When Kathleen Met Joe (sixty years after Alfred met Klara in The Shop Around The Corner)

In followup to my post a few days ago about the constellation of dancing literary stars known as You've Got Mail, Pride & Prejudice, and Much Ado About Nothing.....

....a commenter wrote: "The whole scene outside the cafe before they meet is taken almost verbatim from the original (The Shop around the Corner with James Stewart)."

That excellent response prompted me to respond as follows:

Thank you, Anonymous, whoever you are, I watched the YouTube clip of that scene outside the restaurant, and then in the restaurant, and you are of course 100% correct, Ephron must have really enjoyed stealing that wonderful scene and making it even better. I also read through the screenplay of The Shop Around the Corner, and could find no direct evidence of intent to allude to either Pride & Prejudice or Much Ado About Nothing. However, I did find the following lines which did suggest to me that Much Ado About Nothing may well have been in the back of the mind of the screenwriter:

Matuschek (the boss): That was a nice party last night.
Kralik (the hero): Yes, Mr. Matuschek.
Matuschek: Yes, I had a lot of fun, didn't you?
Kralik: Yes.
M: I'm glad you enjoyed yourself so much. That little poem that you wrote in Mrs. Matuschek's guest book......did you make that up yourself?
K: It's sort of half and half.
M: How do you mean?
K: HALF SHAKESPEARE AND HALF ME. I just changed the lines around to suit the occasion. I made that last line rhyme with Matuschek, that's all.
M: Mrs. Matuschek liked it very much.
K: Thank you.
M: You made a fine impression on her. Mrs. Matuschek thinks a lot of you.

And the above exchange turns out to be significant, because Matuschek later fires Kralik out of jealousy of his wife, egged on by the Iago-like machinations of another employee in the shop, whom Kralik, after he is rehired, ends up having the pleasure of firing.

So this all suggests to me a good awareness of Shakespeare, which makes it more likely that the verbal war between Kralik and Klara Novak is at least in part inspired by Beatrice and Benedick. After all, at the end of Much Ado About Nothing, we hear the following:

Claudio: And I'll be sworn upon't that he loves her; For here's a paper written in his hand, A halting sonnet of his own pure brain, Fashion'd to Beatrice.
Hero: And here's another Writ in my cousin's hand, stolen from her pocket, Containing her affection unto Benedick.

Cheers, ARNIE
@JaneAustenCode on Twitter

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