Theatregoers will recognize something familiar about the new Tom Hanks-Meg Ryan picture, "You've Got Mail," opening in movie theatres Dec. 18.
The comedy, directed and co-written by Nora Ephron, is a modern remake of the 1940 Jimmy Stewart picture, "The Shop Around the Corner," which, in turn, was based on the Hungarian theatrical comedy, The Parfumerie by Miklos Laszlo.
Laszlo's comedy was adapted into the 1963 Broadway musical, She Loves Me, written by Joe Masteroff, Sheldon Harnick and Jerry Bock, and directed by Hal Prince. It starred Barbara Cook and Daniel Massey. The musical was revived on Broadway in the 1993-94 season.
In the play and musical, co-workers at a perfume shop in Europe squabble but unknowingly correspond with one another as secret romantic pen pals in a lonely hearts' club.
In the new film, an independent bookstore owner (Ryan) clashes with a manager (Hanks) of a nearby major-chain bookstore in New York's Upper West Side. The source material was also the basis for a 1949 Judy Garland movie musical, "In the Good Old Summertime," about employees (Garland and Van Johnson) in a music shop. American folk songs and standards were used for the score.
-- By Kenneth Jones