Christmas Day marked the start of Film Forum’s week-long, 35mm run of the director Ernst Lubitsch’s perennial holiday classic, The Shop Around the Corner. Itself based on a play by Miklós László, Corner’s enduring appeal has led to the spawning of two remakes: a 1949 musical version, In the Good Old Summertime, and Nora Ephron’s 1998 charmer You’ve Got Mail, which updated the movie’s pen-pal-generated romance for the age of the internet. But Lubitsch’s effort remains the definitive one. Where many of his movies centered on the travails of the privileged and the wealthy — movies of “art deco nightclubs, shimmering silk gowns, [and] slamming bedroom doors,” in the words of the critic Dave Kehr — Corner focuses with great humanity on working-class hardships. James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan star as the two bickering co-workers (in a Budapest department store) who don’t realize that they’re falling for each other through the mail.
The Film Society’s final retrospective of the year is a huge one — Let There Be Light: The Films of John Huston is a nearly month-long series on the prolific auteur, whose directorial career began illustriously in 1941 with The Maltese Falcon (screening here on 12/25 and 12/26) and ended in 1987 with the James Joyce adaptation The Dead (12/24, 12/26). While the program is almost entirely devoted to Huston’s work, there are a few ingenious, non-Huston-directed choices that bear his stamp: Roman Polanski’s Chinatown (12/22, 12/23), most obviously, with Huston’s legendary turn as Noah Cross; Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood (12/27), featuring a Huston-esque Daniel Day-Lewis; and the great White Hunter, Black Heart (1/2, 1/5), which stars director Clint Eastwood in an audaciously stylized, Huston-aping performance. Today’s series-opening docket includes two of Huston’s best-liked works — the 1950 noir The Asphalt Jungle and the Bogart/Bacall team-up Key Largo — as well as his Montgomery Clift–starring biopic Freud: The Secret Passion.