Andre Cayatte's Shop Girls of Paris was originally released in 1943 as Au Bonheur des Dames. Adapted from a novel by Emile Zola, the story is a surprisingly contemporary one. When the first major department store is established in Paris, everyone is delighted -- everyone except the Mom-and-Pop store owners, who predict (quite rightly, as it turns out) that they'll soon be put out of business. The film concentrates on the plight of one elderly shopkeeper (Michel Simon) and his orphaned niece (Blanchette Brunoy), who, lacking a steady source of income, goes to work for the larger store. Some critics have likened Shop Girls of Paris to Orson Welles' similarly elegiac The Magnificent Ambersons, though Cayatte's film has a more blatantly tragic denouement.
~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide