Living in Synergy

Like Kathleen and Joe, Jimmy Stewart's Alfred has been exchanging anonymous letters with Margaret Sullavan's Klara. Each quickly falls in love with his/her unseen correspondent, but, little-known to them--or to us, for a while--they've been working (and bickering) alongside their secret loves at Matuschek's. The truth is revealed to us so delicately that the moment barely registers as the film quietly continues to create its world. Soon, Alfred realizes the truth as well; he lets Klara remain in the dark while she continues to berate him. Alfred stares at her, half-enchanted and half-bemused at the turn of fate, and mutters to her, "People seldom go to the trouble of scratching the surface of things to find the inner truth." Suffice it to say that this sentiment was not among the elements borrowed by Ephron's shiny-happy remake--whose only inner truth lies right on the surface.

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