Home Video Picks & Passes 01.03.21

Margaret Sullavan, James Stewart and Frank Morgan star in ‘The Shop Around the Corner.’
Margaret Sullavan, James Stewart and Frank Morgan star in ‘The Shop Around the Corner.’ (photo: Public domain)

The Shop Around the Corner (1940) — PICK

The Train (1964) — PICK

Is the Jimmy Stewart/Margaret Sullavan romantic comedy The Shop Around the Corner, from the brilliant Ernst Lubitsch, a Christmas movie? Check out the new Warner Bros. Archive Collection Blu-ray and decide for yourself.

With a classic mistaken-identity premise that has inspired a number of lesser films (notably the Tom Hanks-Meg Ryan vehicle You’ve Got Mail), the film is set apart by the deftness with which Lubitsch scratches the surface of ordinary characters and circumstances and reveals the reality behind the deceptive appearances — the doubts beneath vain posturing, the false heart behind a smiling face, the poetic soul behind a prosaic demeanor — all served up with soufflé-like lightness.

Definitely not a Christmas movie, but also with a new Blu-ray edition, John Frankenheimer’s The Train pits Burt Lancaster as a French railroad man with resistance ties against A Man for All Seasons’ Paul Scofield as a cultured Nazi colonel seeking to plunder priceless art as the Nazis retreat from Paris.

Based on a true story, this intelligent, crisply directed thriller brings documentary-like realism and an emphasis on action and problem-solving to exploring an existential question: 

How do you weigh the cultural heritage of a nation against the value of human life?

CAVEAT SPECTATOR: The Shop Around the Corner: An off-screen extramarital affair; a thwarted suicide attempt; romantic complications. Teens and up. The Train: Wartime violence. Teens and up.