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!