Ernst Lubitsch’s pin-sharp 1940 rom-com The Shop around the Corner tells the story of two employees at a leathergoods shop in Budapest (played to perfection by James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan). The pair can barely stand each other, yet do not realise that they are falling in love as anonymous correspondents through their letters.
Many aspects of the plot and dialogue formed the basis of another hugely enjoyable film, Nora Ephron’s You’ve Got Mail (1998) starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.
In the film, Joe Fox (Tom Hanks) opens a ‘megachain’ bookstore, just around the corner from Kathleen Kelly’s (Meg Ryan’s) independent, family run ‘Shop Around the Corner’.
Kathleen despises everything Joe Fox stands for, seeing him as an arch-capitalist; uncaring, uncultured and entirely disinterested in the products he sells – not least because her business stands to fail imminently under the pressure of such overwhelming competition. Yet, all along, the pair exchange emails, anonymously, building an affinity which soon grows into affection and then love.
What does the Beacon Scheme have to do with any of this, you may wonder?
In a world where cinema is dominated by multiplex cinemas with surround sound, free popcorn, VIP seats and eye-watering ticket prices, the idea of a small two-screen cinema in a small town like Hoylake might seem, well, a bit bonkers.
But High Streets are changing. More and more people want – and prefer – to visit independently-run shops, leisure and entertainment offers. Combine these, do it well, and it’s a winning formula.
As well as finding love, Joe and Kathleen realised there’s a place for Fox Books. But there’s also a place for the Shop Around the Corner.
We know this is true in the real world because the best of these ‘niche’ and destination businesses are holding their own against the Fox Books of the world.
And that is why people love the prospect of the Beacon in Hoylake.
It’s why the likes of Patricia (Mrs Gene) Kelly wrote to MP Margaret Greenwood and Wirral Council in support of our project.
It’s why the Wirral Chamber of Commerce ‘get it’, realising that what we are proposing here is unlike anything else around… it has a strong USP that wll pull in people from across West Wirral and beyond, boosting the economy and supporting existing businesses.
It’s why Daniel Craig sent a message of support; why actor Dai Bradley (Billy Casper in the iconic British film Kes) is so supportive. It’s why the local Conservation Area Association are fully behind building a contemporary extension to the Victorian Town Hall to make a public space we will be proud of for generations to come.
And why Alan Evans, Strategic Director of Wirral Council, and MP Margaret Greenwood also fully support it.
We’ve got mail… feel free to read!
- Letter from Patricia (Mrs Gene) Kelly
- Letter from Margaret Greenwood MP
- Letter from ‘Kes’ actor David Bradley
- Letter from Alan Evans, Strategic Director, WMBC
- Letter from Paula Basnett, CEO, Wirral Chamber of Commerce
- Letter from Christopher Moore CBE, Chair, Hoylake Conservation Area Committee