Although picture carries the indelible stamp of Ernst Lubitsch at his best in generating humor and human interest from what might appear to be unimportant situations, it carries further to impress via the outstanding characterizations by Margaret Sullavan and James Stewart in the starring spots. Sullavan’s portrayal is light and fluffy – in contrast to the seriousness of Stewart in both business and romance.
The supporting cast is very well-balanced. In the compact group is Frank Morgan, as the owner-operator of the small gift shop in Budapest, and his staff including Joseph Schildkraut, Sara Haden, Felix Bressart, William Tracy, Inez Courtney and Charles Smith.
The story [based on Nikolaus Laszlo’s play] might be termed a small edition of Grand Hotel, with practically all of the action taking place in the small shop. Stewart, senior clerk, confides to Bressart that he is corresponding with a girl (Sullavan) through a newspaper ad, and takes the affair with the unknown very seriously. Sullavan arrives to apply for a job and, after being turned down by Stewart, is hired by Morgan.
From that point on it’s an intimate tale of the store and its workers. Story swings along at fast pace.