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The Devil and Miss Jones (1941)

Isn't Romantic Comedy redundant?

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Ann Harding
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The Devil and Miss Jones (1941)

Postby Ann Harding » March 9th, 2008, 5:19 pm

I have just dicovered this lovely bitter-sweet comedy on a big screen. I was originally a bit put off by the name of the director, Sam Wood which I find pretty bland most of the time. But the cast list is so impressive that I went. I am glad I did! This comedy boast a really excellent script by Norman Krasna.
The film takes place in a department store in New York. The employees cannot stand anymore the management which treats them apallingly. They start strikes and protests. The store owner, millionair J.P. Merrick (Charles Coburn) decides to join the store as an anonymus employee to inquire about the 'trouble-makers'. In the process, he meets Mary Jones (Jean Arthur) who befriend him immediately. He discovers the petty manager (Edmund Gwenn) and how life is for a small employee. He even discovers love with Elizabeth (lovely Spring Byington).....

Charles Coburn was absolutely delighful as the rich man who suddenly realise that there is more to life than just accounting and solitude. He made a charming (elderly) couple with Spring Byington, quite reminiscent in a way to the one in Make Way for Tomorrow. Jean Arthur was just perfect as the petulant employee fighting for her colleagues' rights.
I absolutely love the scene at Coney Island where the beach is so crowded one can hardly move. The end was very much fairy-tale like; perhaps a bit too much as the tone of the film for a comedy was rather dark in many ways. The description of the job situation in the film feels quite contemporary. I should add that the cinematography is by Harry Stradling: the print I saw was gorgeous! :)
Last edited by Ann Harding on March 10th, 2008, 4:25 am, edited 2 times in total.

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charliechaplinfan
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Postby charliechaplinfan » March 9th, 2008, 5:28 pm

I'm so glad you enjoyed it, I know you were looking forward to this film.

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movieman1957
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Postby movieman1957 » March 10th, 2008, 6:13 am

No wonder Arthur and Coburn were put together for "The More The Merrier."

I like this film very much. It is one of the first Arthur films I saw. I think she's wonderful. Coburn is a terrific addition to anything. Always enjoyed him in "Vivacious Lady."

Never had a Tuna(?) Popover.
Chris

"Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana."

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Ann Harding
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Postby Ann Harding » March 10th, 2008, 7:27 am

Your right Movieman, I would really like to have the recipe of that tuna popover!!! :P

Charles Coburn is also great in Lubitsch's Heaven Can Wait. What a great character actor! :)

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mrsl
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Postby mrsl » March 10th, 2008, 9:20 am

Whatever you new people do, if you're looking for this movie, The Devil and Miss Jones, make sure you don't wander over to the adult section of the rental store. My stupid, sick, idiot, first husband rented it once, and it definitely is NOT the movie they're talking about here. I'm really being serious about this because by this time, the way ratings have changed, it might be rated as an 'R' by now, or 'M', so you do want to be sure you have the right movie.

Anne
Anne


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Postby Dawtrina » March 10th, 2008, 9:21 am

Ah yes, The Devil and Miss Jones and The Devil in Miss Jones are most emphatically not the same film...

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charliechaplinfan
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Postby charliechaplinfan » March 10th, 2008, 9:48 am

Thanks for the tip. Good gracious what a mistake to make!

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phil noir
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Postby phil noir » April 8th, 2008, 5:37 am

This film was on television in the U.K. in the middle of the night last week, and I taped and watched it again. I liked it very much too - it really is quite a radical film for its time, very much on the side of the workers and against the capitalists.

Jean Arthur has a terrific speech on the sands at Coney Island where she explains to Charles Coburn how she loves Robert Cummings: not like in the movies where people are on fire with passion - 'she's not the incendiary type' - and that sometimes they're even a bit bored with one another; but that if she knew she'd never see him again, she didn't think she could go on. I loved that bit. Very nice performance from Spring Byington too. I laughed and laughed at the part where Charles Coburn was trying to force that little girl to try on the high top boots.

The ending was hopelessly fudged, of course - a trip to Honolulu indeed! (And did Edmund Gwenn get sacked? He wasn't on the cruise.)

I seem to remember that in The Actress Nobody Knew, J.A.'s biographer says that the film was a relative failure at the box office: apparently it was not escapist enough for the masses.

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Postby Ollie » April 8th, 2008, 7:29 am

I've got this film listed on EMAIL ALERTS to try to record it next time it's on. Thanks for the enthusiastic write-up.

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Postby Hollis » June 24th, 2008, 2:03 pm

Hi Christine,

I feel about Jean Arthur the way you do about Ann Harding. I find her almost irresistible. The face, that incredible voice and her general demeanor are captivating. I think this was one of her best roles. Right up there with "Only Angels Have Wings" and "Mister Smith Goes to Washington." I'm so glad you enjoyed this so much. She and Charles Coburn played off of each other to perfection. This one, I feel, really is an "essential" comedy, and worth seeing again and again! Say hello to your husband for me too if you would. I'm sorry I forgot to ask what his name is, but tell him for me that sight unseen, he's a lucky guy to find someone with your language skills and sense of humor! Talk with you again soon I hope. Have a good evening.

As always,

Hollis

p.s. What's the film with Jean Arthur and Charles Coburn about the war time housing shortage in Washington, D.C.? That's another classic comedy! Got it! "The More The Merrier!"

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charliechaplinfan
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Postby charliechaplinfan » June 24th, 2008, 3:12 pm

I feel the same way you do, over the last couple of years, since the DVD market opened up I've been able to watch many classic movies. Jean Arthur has become one of my favorites.

I wonder what the famously shy Miss Arthur would think of having such avid fans after so many years.
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin

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movieman1957
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Postby movieman1957 » June 24th, 2008, 3:16 pm

If you two haven't seen it "Easy Living" is required for Jean Arthur fans. She and Milland do wonderfully together.
Chris

"Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana."

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Ann Harding
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Re: The Devil and Miss Jones (1941)

Postby Ann Harding » June 13th, 2010, 8:31 am

I have just been revisiting Miss Jones, two years after my original message. I still feel exactly the same about it. A really great comedy wonderfully acted with a superlative script. :)

feaito

Re: The Devil and Miss Jones (1941)

Postby feaito » April 18th, 2011, 11:16 am

I revisited this film in January/February 2011 and I agree with you: on of the greatest comedies with a sublime script by Norman Krasna.

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JackFavell
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Re: The Devil and Miss Jones (1941)

Postby JackFavell » April 18th, 2011, 12:22 pm

This film and The More the Merrier are absolute must-sees for me... they are my go-to movies.... I'll watch either one every time they play on TCM.


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