If you haven't seen the film, please stop reading now.
J.P. Merrick, is a millionaire who has investments all over New York. It is to his amazement he sees himself burned in effigy in front of the department store he has forgotten he owns. Merrick, like all people in business don't want to appear to be exploiting the workers, but this is too much! He must put an end to it.
In disguising himself as a salesman, he goes directly where the problem seems to be coming from, the shoe department. There he meets Mary Jones, who immediately feels Tom Higgins, his assumed name, is a man that is going through a rough time in his life. Mary feels pity when she realizes he doesn't know a thing about salesmanship.
In spite of everything going bad for him as a shoe salesman, Tom sticks to his new persona. He only meets kindness from all the people he is trying to fire. Merrick, by the end of the first full day at the store feels the strain of being on his feet all the time; we watch him soaking his feet in hot water, aided by his butler, George. In the process of gaining knowledge about the trouble makers, Merrick becomes human. He gets to realize how wrong he has been about a life he has lived so alienated from.
"The Devil and Miss Jones" is a movie that will delight anyone wishing to have fun. Of course, this is a film that depends totally in the two principals, Jean Arthur, who plays Mary Jones, and Charles Coburn, who as J.P Merrick/Tom Higgins shows why they were about the best actors working in the cinema in the 30s and 40s in Hollywood. Not only did they bring such class to whatever they played, but they are totally convincing. Ms. Arthur was a natural and so was Mr. Coburn.
The rest of the cast is extraordinary. A young Robert Cummings is perfect in his role as the union man. Spring Byinton, an actress that appeared in many films, is a charming Elizabeth, the woman that steals Merrick/Higgins heart. In her first scene with Mr. Coburn, she sits in the park bench to have lunch and he has nothing to eat. She gives him one of her tuna popovers and clarifies for him she paid 12 cents for the can! What times! In minor roles, S. Z. Sakall is George, the loyal butler. Mr. Sakall is a joy to watch, no matter what picture, or what character he is playing. Also, Edmund Gwenn, who probably stayed behind to played Santa Claus for the store, makes an incredible Hooper, the man in charge of the shoe department.
Thanks to Sam Wood's inspired direction this is a film that will not cease to please.