The Devil and Miss Jones (1941) Poster

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Labor Day Sale
jotix1005 February 2005
Norman Krasna, was one of the best screen writers in the movies of the period. Sam Wood shows his ability to direct this excellent cast in one of the most satisfying comedies about the distinctions between the moneyed classes and the working stiffs they employed.

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.
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A Sweet, Sharp, Sophisticated Comedy!
caribeno25 March 2002
I saw "The Devil and Miss Jones" two nights ago. What a joy Jean Arthur was to watch. Truly, the teaming of Charles Coburn and Jean Arthur needs to be celebrated. It has been ignored for too long! They play off each other as Powell and Loy, Laurel and Hardy, and Tracy and Hepburn did. Jean Arthur was never lovelier (as a brunette!). Robert Cummings never had a showier role nor one in which he displayed bite and a strong, leading-man presence. The script accurately conveys the times in which it was written. The scenes of how it was for people in large cities to work and entertain themselves during the Depression is priceless in its accuracy, a time capsule showing future Americans the Great Depression and its legacy. The playing of Arthur, Coburn, Cummings, and Spring Byington as well as the editing give "The Devil and Miss Jones" a playful, lyrical, yet sassy tone. A true rarity for a film with this type of plot to pull off yet it did, brilliantly. This film deserves greater critical and public reevaluation.
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A Lesson in Comedy
spidermandel5 February 2005
I saw this movie for the first time on TCM, during their run-up to the 2005 Oscars. I expected quaint, cute, pleasant. What I got was much more: strong writing and characters, believable performances, a sure hand of the director who knew how to make comedy work on-screen, an interesting story with plot twists. Even after more than six decades, this comedy still works well. Today's comedy directors and writers could learn a lot from this film: how to make the situations and characters work without shoving in the audience's face. Sam Wood gives the audience for this film some credit for intelligence, and lets the strength of the script and actors emerge. For the first time, I realized just what fine actors are Charles Coburn and Jean Arthur.
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Cute and funny, one of Coburn best films
timmauk19 June 2001
Ever since I saw Jean Arthur in "The More The Merrier", I fell in love with her. What beauty, what talent, what a VOICE!

This is one of her better films. More reminiscent of a Capra film. It's the working class vs the wealthy uncaring class. This goes beyond that though. It tells the tale of a rich man(Coburn) who hears of a revolt at one of his businesses. He wants it stopped and he wants heads to roll!!

When he thinks the investigation is not going to his liking, he decides to go undercover himself. Now this is where the REAL story starts. Now he is on THEIR ground and he sees for himself what these working class "pigs" are really like. They are just people. People with little money and big hearts, who just want a better life.

Everyone is wonderful in this film. Jean Arthur and Charles Coburn work terrific together as always(no wonder they did three movies together). I was surprised to see Robert Cummings in a major role back in 1941. I didn't know he was a star before Television.

The only real disappointment I had with this film was Edmund Gwenn. I could not believe it. The man that IS Santa Claus played a mean rude little man. EGAD!!

Seriously though, This is a MUST SEE for those who love good hearted comedies. Just makes you feel so good. An 8 out of 10.
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heartwarming story set in department store management-labor conflict
Andersod-114 February 2005
This is a wonderful story from the days immediately preceding America's entry into WWII, when the values that made America great were on display in the movies. A powerful department store owner, played by Charles Coburn, gets a job as a lowly clerk in his own store, in order to ferret out the workers who are trying to organize a labor union. He gradually gets caught up in the lives of the clerks in the shoe department (co-stars Jean Arthur, Bob Cummings, Spring Byington, Edmund Gwen) who accept him as just a poor, older man, and his view of things begins to shift. There are some excellent scenes in this movie, especially one in which Coburn is arrested while on a day at the beach with his fellow workers, and has to be kept out of jail by Cummings' bravado. Of course, everything works out well in the end, because this movie was made in the days when good was destined to triumph over evil.
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Glorious, meaningful farce
ivan-2214 August 2000
It's so full of good, common sense, compassion, wit and joy, that I can barely believe it. How depressing that this masterpiece should never be shown on TV (to my knowledge). It is not the first time that Norman Krasna has drawn my attention. This man is a genius. He writes with a total, unflagging self-assurance and perfection. This movie just cannot be improved upon. There are really no faults in it. The humor is funny without being demeaning, there is not the slightest mistake in taste or judgment. What makes it even more astonishing is that it was made during war time, when patriotism tends to cause people to become sentimental. This movie doesn't spare its country one whit. It does not include some "bad apples" among the workers. On the contrary, it implies that those who are usually referred to as bad apples are in fact the good ones! This movie is very much in the spirit of Frank Capra, and his rooting for the little man, but it outdoes Capra at his own game. There is more Capra in this movie than in all Capra movies put together. Krasna doesn't just root for the underdog, he fights his battles and he WINS! (1990 diary entry).
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jcf1311 May 2003
All aspiring and established actresses who aspire to light comedy and romantic comedy, should pay to see Jean Arthur. Simply the greatest.. She set a standard that may not be attained. She was that good. I never saw her give anything but an excellent performance And I think i have seen just about everything she did
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Coburn Stars In This Charmer
ccthemovieman-15 March 2006
Charles Coburn was a funny man. I wish had more movies with him in them, as he usually makes me laugh. He did here, and this movie was on it's way to a rating of "10" when it bogged down midway through and never really regained momentum. It did have a nice sentimental ending, though.

Coburn, meanwhile, was outstanding as the super-rich owner of a department store who goes "underground" as a shoe salesman in his store to find out the cause of worker unrest. Then romance takes over the story: Coburn and Spring Byington and then Bob Cummings and Jean Arthur and the story loses a lot of it comedy touch and its zip.

Overall, the film still exudes charm and Coburn, despite third billing, IS the star of this film. I'm sure a number of fans of this film are disappointed it still isn't out on DVD.
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Such an easy movie to watch - delightful in all ways
2server7 April 2001
The tone of this movie is peppy and fast. Not a dull moment. The comedy is sophisticated and yet of the belly-laugh variety. This movie has entertained me and my friends over the years and is as refreshing now as it was the first time. Charles Laughton, Spring Byington, S.Z. Szakall, Bob Cummings, Edmond Gwenn (booooooo) and of course Jean Arthur - what a cast!!!!! This is a representative of the golden era of social-conscious entertainment - movies with a message - the New Deal is there and there is hope for the overworked and underappreciated. The employees who devote their lives and skills to the firm in order to give a better life to their children - this was the era preceding the "me, me, and only me" baby boom where everything was given to the kids without question. I can relate to this after constantly listening to the stories of my parents who were of the same generation as those employees. All gone now, and the memories remain.
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Pre-War Populism
B2423 January 2005
Comments about movies like this from the Great Depression years frequently allude to radical or left-wing political themes. Such views miss the point. Producer Sam Wood went on to espouse a decidedly anti-communist stance in his capacity as a spokesman for the movie industry before the House Unamerican Activities Committee just before his death in 1949. A quick look back at all the movies he produced will set the record straight. Like Ronald Reagan after him, he was never a socialist but rather an old-fashioned American Populist, more in the vein of Theodore Roosevelt and William Jennings Bryan than a Eugene Debs or Mother Jones. A streak of anti-foreign Nativism is there as well, combined with the Protestant Ethic and Frontier Individualism.

Thus the theme of this film -- labor vs. management -- is resolved through an exercise in solidly pragmatic conflict resolution rather than any victory for revolutionary ideology. Similar themes are to be found in contemporaneous films like "The Grapes of Wrath" or "Sullivan's Travels." While not as lofty as those two, "The Devil and Miss Jones" is a wonderful comedy with a purpose, entirely consonant with its time.
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Bright comedy with gems of performances by Jean Arthur, Charles Coburn, and Bob Cummings
vincentlynch-moonoi28 April 2013
Warning: Spoilers
This pretty much forgotten film is actually one of the brightest and most charming of the comedies from pre-1950s Hollywood.

The real star here -- despite the billing -- is Charles Coburn. His performance as a tycoon who goes out among the little people to learn who hung him in effigy is just was understood in 1941 when this role garnered him an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Coburn is a long-time favorite character actor of mine, and this probably my favorite role of his. If a man can glow, he does here! Jean Arthur, the real star of the movie (and the co-producer) is even more likable here than she usually was; not as spunky and a bit more subtle. She has a brief scene on the beach when she explains her love for Robert Cummings, and it's really quite touching.

Robert Cummings is very good as the labor activist. His part borders on comedy/drama...and I think most people forget that Cummings (as demonstrated in a couple of Hitchcock films) was an excellent dramatic actor.

Edmund Gwenn always makes you feel warm and fuzzy. Right? Well, not here. He's the bad guy -- the supervisor in the the department store. A refreshing change for him.

Spring Byington is simply charming here as a salesperson who has her eye on Charles Coburn. I always enjoy seeing her in any film, and this part is more substantial than most she was in.

I would guess that S.Z. Sakall was a bit disappointed with his role as butler. Not much significance to the part.

A question that arose in my mind as I was watching this again was: is this really a comedy. And the answer is yes, yet there are many elements of drama in the film, as well. And perhaps that is another reason why this is such a good film. There's a blending of comedy and drama here that is nigh on irresistible. If they had made this movie a farce, it wouldn't be a very satisfying film. There's enough reality to here to have some empathy for the characters and their individual plights.

Very highly recommended, and deserving of a place on your DVD shelf.
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What Money Can't Buy
bkoganbing19 July 2009
The Devil And Miss Jones was the first film of which there were to be many in which Frank Ross produced and his wife Jean Arthur starred for RKO. The team did do one other, A Lady Takes A Chance, and Ross did some writing for The More The Merrier, but the Ross/Arthur marriage was breaking up and no more films followed.

That's a pity because The Devil And Miss Jones is a sparkling comedy about a very rich man who goes incognito among his employees to see how they live.

Of course that's not what Charles Coburn's original intent. Coburn has a passion for anonymity the same way Donald Trump loves seeing his name in the papers. When this reclusive millionaire gets picketed at his home by workers from a department store that's one of his minor holdings, Coburn isn't happy. He decides to find out just who the leftwing subversives are and takes a job as a shoe salesman in said department store.

What he does find that is that the place is run by a gang of petty tyrants, using and abusing the authority of his name. He also gets to know the union heads who in this case are a young couple, Jean Arthur and Robert Cummings.

But what really made The Devil And Miss Jones sparkle was the October romance of Coburn and Arthur's friend Spring Byington. They just might qualify as the oldest romantic coupling in film history. But they were a delightful pair. I'll bet when Coburn was young the women threw themselves at him like crazy. But as he got older and cynical it wasn't what he wanted, a trophy wife was not on the list. Some real love was just what Coburn needed.

The Devil And Miss Jones got two Oscar nominations, for Best Original Screenplay for Norman Krasna and for Best Supporting Actor for Charles Coburn. He lost the race to Donald Crisp for How Green Was My Valley which really was a supporting role. Coburn in fact is in the lead, he has more screen time than either Arthur or Cummings.

Jean Arthur was a wise woman, she could have pulled star rank with the producer and gotten more time, but she knew that Coburn was the one who made the film.

This was a timely film then and still topical now. Organized labor was gaining the right to collective bargaining under the Wagner Act in those years and the papers were full of places like this department store finally gaining a union shop. It's something that labor still fights for though on different fronts today.

As a political film, The Devil And Miss Jones is very much relevant today. As a comedy it's still very funny as Charles Coburn learns that real love is something all his money can't buy.
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Me and Miss Jones
mmallon412 March 2016
The Devil and Miss Jones may be the best Frank Capra film he didn't make and one of the last depression era comedies making it one of the last of its kind - a screwball comedy dealing with the conflict between social classes. The film presents a fascinating and shocking look at the treatment of workers in a department store during the final days of the depression, themes which would become obsolete with the US entry to the war.

The owner of the department store is J.P. Merrick (Charles Coburn). With this character, the movie shows the rich aren't all bad people at heart. They're just cut off from common people and their reality, unaware of the common man's struggle and surround by advisors who think they know what's best. Heck, J.P. doesn't even remember what stores he owns! He brings himself down to his employee's level by going undercover as a store worker in order to identify those who are trying to form a union. J.P. has the advantage that no one in the public knows what he looks like as his picture hasn't appeared in a newspaper for 20 years, also no internet in 1941 would also be an advantage.

I don't how if the treatment of the workers is realistic or exaggerated; just how relevant is this movie today? In one scene a store supervisor criticises a new worker (unaware it's the store's owner going undercover) in a bullying nature for their poor intelligence level test score. In another scene the department store addresses their workers at the end of the day as they stand in unison like a military dictatorship, threatening to fire anyone and preventing them from working in any department store in the city if they speak out against the company or associate with anyone who does. Next to many of the workers have a secret union meeting on top of a building, like a band of rebels coming together to take down an oppressive regime. The leader of the cause played by Robert Cummings states the company is letting employees go after 15 years when their salary is higher than a new employee and that they expect a quarter lifetime of loyalty to the one employer. At one point Jean Arthur even speaks during one emotionally rousing speech about how working "25 years for only two employers" as unacceptable - I know those days have certainly passed us. The art deco department store itself is a beauty and offers a nostalgic look at the days before automation, when people had to be employed to do every task without the aid of computers.

Robert Cumming's character is an activist rallying against the establishment; the type of person who would protect his country against its government. The type of character you don't see often in classic films and likely would have been labelled a communist during the McCarthy era. In one pivotal scene at a police station he takes on abusive, power hungry cops and escaping charges by reciting the Constitution and then the Declaration of Independence at lightning fast speed to remind the officers of their rights; a real badass. A scene like this just goes to show you how people are unaware of their rights.

Jean Arthur and Charles Coburn are a superb and unconventional pairing. Yet you get two great romance plots for the price of one - old love and young love; Charles Coburn & Spring Byington and Jean Arthur and Robert Cummings. Like Frank Capra's works, The Devil and Miss Jones is full of incredibly intimate, powerfully sentimental moments as two characters talk to each other as the rest of the world ceases to exist, such as the beach scene with Arthur and Cummings or the moment on the train with Coburn and Byington are all incredibly moving. Yet the intimate moment which strikes me the most is Arthur and Coburn's discussion on love. Jean Arthur's monologue on love feels so true; stating that two people can look at each other and see something way deep inside that no one else can see and distances her love from that seen in movies of love songs. She doesn't think herself or her boyfriend are the greatest people in the world, yet doesn't know if she'd care to live or die if she would never see him again. When this moment begins the sound effects of people talking in the background becomes increasingly faint and then loud again as other people enter the scene - it's perfect. In terms of just pure comedy, just look the scene in which Jean Arthur dives across the table; an explosion screwball comedy in its purest form.
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One of the Great Comedies of Hollywood
wbrighenti23 November 2012
Charles Coburn steals the show in this movie. He had me in stitches throughout the entire movie. Charles Coburn was one of the greatest comic actors of Hollywood.

But when you also include comedians like Jean Arthur and Spring Byington, along with Bob Cummings (of "Love that Bob"), Edmund Gwenn (Kris Kringle as Scrooge here), and S. Z. Sakall (better known to classic movie lovers as "Cuddles" or "Whoosh"), hilarity upon hilarity follow. What fun! The film is filled with side-splitting scenes. My favorite is when Spring Byington expresses concern about the parakeets not being fed over the weekend, being reduced to tears for being called an idiot.

But the old goat, Charles Coburn, is the center of the comedy, whether he is bantering with Jean Arthur or Spring Byington or Cuddles or Gwenn. And if you do not know who Charles Coburn is, you don't know movies.

After watching this film, if you wish to watch more great films featuring Charles Coburn, then watch "The Lady Eve", "The More the Merrier", and "Monkey Business". Character actors--like Charles Coburn, William Demarest, Thelma Ritter, Spring Byington, Akim Tamiroff, Jack Carson, Eve Arden, Billie Burke, Edward Everett Horton, Cuddles, Billy Gilbert, et al--made the movies even though they rarely received top billing.

There were far too many great comic character actors to name and include here, but if you want to know who they were, just start watching the films of Preston Sturges and those of the late 1930s and early 1940s to see them. The Studio System of Hollywood then recruited and employed them full time under contract.

What a great era of comedy and film making that time period was. And how sad that after World War II we lost that era of Hollywood, its greatest and most productive period.
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A comedy with a conscience
Red-1251 October 2007
The Devil and Miss Jones (1941), directed by Sam Wood, is a comedy with a conscience. Believe it or not, in 1941, moviegoers could accept the fact that rich people cared more for profits than they did for their employees. When department store employees try to organize for better pay and conditions, the store owner hires detectives to find the organizers so that they can be fired. When the detective doesn't appear motivated enough, the owner takes on the job himself. He goes undercover and pretends to be a new employee.

On his first day on the job, Mr. Merrick (Charles Cobern) is befriended by Mary Jones (the incomparable Jean Arthur). This part was written with Ms. Arthur in mind, and she is perfect for it. She's kind, tough, romantic, and compassionate.

Robert Cummings does a creditable job as Mary's sweetheart, and Spring Byington is perfect as an older woman who is looking for love, but will only consider someone who's not rich. S.Z. Sakall plays Mr. Merrick's Butler. (A year later, he was cast as the waiter in "Casablanca.")

Although the movie is, naturally, somewhat dated, it's still worth seeing. The scene in which the fabulously rich Mr. Merrick is left--literally--without a nickel for a telephone call is fascinating. The basic message--the poor will only get their rights if they organize--is as true today as it was 66 years ago.

This movie will work well on DVD, but we in Rochester were privileged to view a beautifully restored print. Thanks go to UCLA for restoring the film, and making the print available. Thanks also are due to the Rochester Labor Council for showing this movie as part of the Rochester Labor Film Series.
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Even Devils and Millionaires Need Tender Loving Care
theowinthrop31 May 2006
Warning: Spoilers
John P. Merrick is the world's richest man, and owner of a department store in New York City like Macy's. He lives in a nice mansion in Manhattan with his butler George (S. Z. Sakall), and conducts the daily running of his empires ruthlessly. He is the "Devil" in this movie, and would not care if anybody disliked him for that. But he discovers a worm in his garden. There is a budding labor union in his department store. The apparent key to it is one Joe O'Brien (Bob Cummings) who is outspoken, fearless, and a trifle feckless. Joe's chief allies in the store are his girlfriend Mary Jones (Jean Arthur) and her closest friend Elizabeth Ellis (Spring Byington). Their activities are watched by store detectives (like William Demerest) who report to the store manager Mr. Allison (Walter Kingsford, in one of his less likable parts). But they (and Merrick) are aware that many on the staff are members of the incipient union, and Merrick is determined to locate and discharge them.

Merrick disguises himself as a new employee and starts working undercover in the department store's shoe department (where Mary works). It becomes quite an education for Merrick. On the one hand he is still looking for the union members, but he is also getting a taste of what his employees are up against - especially when he meets the department head, Mr. Hooper (Edmund Gwenn).

When we think of department stores and Gwenn we think of his Oscar winning performance as Kris Kringle in MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET, but we rarely recall that while Gwenn was good at eccentric, nice elderly men (like the counterfeiter in MR. 880) he could plays nastier types (like the would-be assassin in FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT). Hooper is one of the most supercilious snobs imaginable - and all he really is is the head clerk of the shoe department!

Merrick also discovers a gentler portion of the universe. Mary introduces him to her friend Elizabeth (whom Hooper is interested in - the triangle here is similar to the triangle in LOUISA). At home, due to nerves and ulcers from his hard grind, Merrick is stuck eating broken crackers in milk for dinner. But Elizabeth is so relaxing, he's able to eat her regular chicken dinners for lunch. Soon Merrick finds himself a fourth with Mary, Joe, and Elizabeth on the weekends. And he's enjoying it!

With THE LADY EVE, THE DEVIL AND MISS JONES showed that Charles Coburn was capable of good comic performances, and his sharing film screen time with Jean Arthur (and his friend Edmund Gwenn and Spring Byington) showed that their styles of comedy mingled perfectly together. It points the way to his Oscar winner THE MORE THE MERRIER, and his wonderful work in LOUISA.

My favorite parts are his scenes with Gwenn here, trying to beat him as a salesman (only to discover he can't handle the kid that Sakall brings in to buy shoes), and his scene where he tries to impress Arthur, Cummings, and Byington at Coney Island with a rare wine from his cellar - only to be told by Cummings, who spits it out, he's been robbed (and he goes berserk watching Cummings spill out the rest of the "bad wine").

Also note the rest of the cast - in particular Frank Conroy as a police sergeant who knows when to cut a loss ( a far cry from Conroy's Major Tetley in THE OX-BOW INCIDENT).

A well made comedy, it reminds us that even the richest man in the world may need personal attention that money can't buy.
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Comedy: Modest And Successful.
rmax30482324 March 2016
Warning: Spoilers
It's April, 1941, in New York. War in Europe but no Pearl Harbor yet, and we're almost out of the Great Depression -- but not quite. Labor and management were still at odds with one another.

This story, reminiscent in its own way of "Sullivan's Travels", has Coburn as the mean skinflint who is one of the richest men in the city and who discovers that one of his possessions, a department store, is burning him in effigy for his employment practices.

Well, Coburn didn't even know he owned the store but his pride is wounded and he's determined to get to the bottom of this by posing as just another employee. He'll insinuate his way into the workers and find out who's responsible.

What happens next, you can guess.

It's pretty funny. Charles Coburn is more human than he was in any of his other films. Robert Cummings as the labor leader is -- let's say -- earnest enough. But two performances are outstanding. First, Edmund Gwenn as the condescending department head who takes such sly pleasure in humiliating underlings. And Jean Arthur, the effervescent, vibrant, and sexy shoe saleslady who is very appealing.

It's not a screwball comedy, nor as wildly hilarious as "Sullivan's Travels." There are a few pratfalls but no frenzy, more smiles than gut-busting laughter. Funniest scene: Coburn on his knees trying to wrestle a high-top shoe onto the foot of some snotty young girl who keeps kicking him and screaming, "I don't LIKE it!" Coburn, determined as always to get his way, carries on as if shoeing a horse.
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Still sparkles after all these years
sunergos10 April 2013
I don't cry easily at films, but this one got me going (at the end). The faded black and white film quality takes nothing away from it's delight. One of the joys of this movie is that it takes it's time, but it's NEVER boring. In some ways, it's a simple tale- a company chief executive goes incognito as a salesman in his own store to ferret out trouble-makers among the staff. The consequences are humorous and ultimately delightful. The lead Charles Coburn was actually considerably older than he was supposed to be in the film, indeed he only started his film career in his 60s, but one would never guess at his acting inexperience. I was stunned to discover that Jean Arthur was aged about forty in the film- she looks the part of a much younger woman. Don't miss any opportunity you get to watch.
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Wit, humour, and charm at its best!
lora6426 August 2006
A few years ago I saw on TV the delightful film "Louisa" which starred Charles Coburn, Spring Byington, and Edmund Gwenn, a tale about senior romance and was a wonderful blend of fine actors. Too bad it isn't on VHS or DVD yet as I've always wanted to see it again someday.

Having bought "The Devil and Miss Jones" to try it out, imagine my surprise and delight to find these senior actors all here in this earlier movie, in nearly the same character roles competing for the attention of the same lady! What a treat.

I've only discovered "D. & Miss Jones" and seen it the first time today so can't comment in-depth as much as others have. The dialogue is very pertinent to the work problems of their day, and Bob Cummings carries the show nicely as far as standing up passionately for labour rights and rousing the workers to realize what it's all about.

Jean Arthur is exquisite as ever. I must say, I think it's wonderful that we as viewers can step back in time to share the days when the war was being fought and entertainment was so genuine. I look forward to viewing it again and get a better handle on the dialogue as it does need more than one showing, I feel, to really appreciate it.
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A good story and isn't that what movies are all about?!
mark-4605 December 2000
What more can a viewer ask for except color. The script, directing and acting are all very good. Especially Jean Arthur, one of the most underrated actresses of the big screen. This movie shows the difference one man can make. That "one man" is Robert Cummings who has a passion to protect employees of a department story by unionizing them. The store owner (Charles Coburn ~ wonderful acting)decides to gather the facts himself instead of just squelch the union and he discovers more than he thought. He learns about people and about himself in the process. See this movie!
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"When they start reciting the Constiution, LOOK OUT!" (dialog, cop to cop)
A_Different_Drummer17 June 2016
1. Closest thing to "perfect" from the screwball comedy era. Casting, acting, script, direction -- flawless and delightful.

2. Hey, where are the Hollywood script thieves when you need one? There should have been a half-dozen remakes by now, the theme is timeless. Could it be that the infamous triple-X film of a similar name permanently banished this gem into cinematic deep storage???

3. Heavy sigh. I miss the days when an actress had a voice so distinctive that you could build an entire movie around it. (Jean Arthur). And the description of True Love in the Coney Island sequence is to die for.

4. Also miss the days when the wealthy 1% Elite were cute and cuddly with a marshmallow centre -- and weren't always trying to get rid of the rest of us with GMOs, vaccines and chemtrails.
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Department Store Workers Are Treated the Same Today
whpratt15 February 2005
Enjoyed this great Classic film dealing with people who work at a department store and are treated unfairly, where they work for years and when their salary reaches their peak, they are Fired. Jean Arthur,(Mary Jones),"Peter Pan",1950 Broadway Production, plays a young gal who works in the shoe department and is romantically involved with Robert Cummings (Joe O'Brien),"The Carpetbaggers",'64, who tries to form a Labor Union in the department store in order to provide better working conditions and a pension plan for their future retirement. Charles Coburn,(J.P. Mererick),"Rhapsody in Blue",'45, plays an outstanding comical role through out the entire picture and enjoys subway rides in NYC and also fun at a very very crowded beach at Coney Island, N.Y.(Brooklyn). Edmund Gwenn, (Hooper),"Apartment For Peggy",'48, plays a department store manager and gives a wonderful supporting role. This film has plenty of laughs and it is still sad to say that Department Stores still treat people the same way in 2000!
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Nice social/romantic comedy, but not overly remarkable
jem13222 August 2008
Warning: Spoilers
This is a nice comedy, with a sparkling Jean Arthur and always entertaining Charles Coburn, even if it really isn't that remarkable. Coburn is a millionaire trying to root out union agitators in one of his department stores, and Arthur is the lovely employee Mary, who happens to be involved with the main agitator, Robert Cummings. Director Sam Wood mixes social criticism with comedy, and the result is quite agreeable. The film is much better in the first half. While it is a comedy, there aren't really many memorable scenes or golden pieces of dialogue. It just seems to run along amiably, and I guess that's the film's main flaw- it never really has the social bite or brisk pace it needs. However, its certainly worth seeing, as Arthur is one of cinema's most talented and underrated actresses, and Coburn is one of those great classic character actors. The title of the film is interesting, as are the opening credits which have introduced a haloed Arthur (angel) and a horned Coburn (devil). But Coburn isn't ever really mean, and certainly not devilish.
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A truly hilarious, heart-warming comedy
daneldorado25 March 2006
Warning: Spoilers
When I first watched "The Devil and Miss Jones" (1941) years ago, I liked it so much I didn't want it to end. I couldn't believe that a black-and-white comedy made so long ago could have the power to move me like that. The depth of my affection for the film is reflected in the fact that, recently, I saw it for only the second time ever... and I felt just as strongly about it as I did the first time.

Charles Coburn plays J.P. Merrick, the richest man in the world, who lives in comfortable isolation in his New York mansion. He's so wealthy that he doesn't realize he owns Neeley's department store... until one day, the newspaper runs a story about Neeley's employees demonstrating for better working conditions. To add insult to injury, they've hoisted an effigy of Merrick.

"That dummy doesn't look anything like me," grumbles Merrick to his servile board of directors. He decides to go undercover, gain employment at his own department store, try to worm his way into the employees' confidence, and "root out the troublemakers!"

Spoilers coming. Okay, now Merrick -- calling himself "Tom Higgins" -- has a job as a shoe salesman, and he's learning who the offenders are among the employees. Trouble is, he likes them. The "Miss Jones" of the title is Mary Jones, a salesperson played by Jean Arthur at the peak of her considerable powers. She's kind to "Tom." Her boyfriend Joe (Robert Cummings) is the ringleader of the demonstrators, but he's not the fire-breathing agitator Merrick was expecting. He's warm, friendly, and only wants what is best for all the employees.

Then there's Elizabeth (Spring Byington), a lady close to Merrick's own age, and he learns to like her enough to consider proposing marriage. But, in a critical scene one evening on the subway, Elizabeth confides to "Tom" that she could never marry a man with money. It's against her principles. Of course, at that point, she thinks he's a poor man.

There are plenty of comedic subplots here, and director Sam Wood steers them skillfully. One has Tom and Mary being arrested for minor offenses on the Coney Island boardwalk, then Joe shows up at the police station and advises the cops that they are in violation of the U.S. Constitution. Funny stuff. But don't worry, this isn't an anti-establishment film, it's an anti-injustice movie. Joe is a fellow who knows right from wrong, and Mary loves him for that.

Finally the day of reckoning comes, when Merrick will have to reveal to his new friends who he really is. In the hands of some hack director, this scene could have crashed and burned, taking the movie with it. But to our great delight, Wood makes it a truly memorable epiphany. It is hysterical. And in this, the film's penultimate scene, Coburn himself delivers the funniest line in the movie. In context, it is funnier than any line I've ever heard.

And, although I've warned of spoilers, I won't repeat his line here. Nothing should prevent you from the joy of hearing it for the first time, when you finally see "The Devil and Miss Jones."

Dan N. (
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There's nothing remotely devilish about this tycoon
moonspinner5527 April 2005
Curiously mistitled comedy casts Charles Coburn as grouchy, unhappy billionaire who infiltrates one of the department stores he owns posing as an employee. He wants to get to the bottom of worker complaints, but makes friends instead. Strange screenplay strays all over the place: instead of nowhere scenes such as Coburn and pals being grilled at a police station, we should be learning more about this tycoon and what makes him tick. As Coburn plays him, he's just an old softy waiting to be loved. Jean Arthur gives one of her better, less brash performances as a sales clerk who befriends him, Spring Byington is sweet as an elderly employee, but Robert Cummings as the local hothead is all smoke and no fire.
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