The Devil and Miss Jones
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Product Description

In one of those plot devices so dear to writers of romantic comedy (in this case, the venerable Norman Krasna, of Wife vs. Secretary and Mr. and Mrs. Smith), financier Charles Coburn goes undercover as a shoe salesman in a Manhattan department store that's a tiny part of his portfolio, hoping to discover why the employees hate him so much. He has the luck to be assigned to the counter next to Jean Arthur, rasping out one of her inimitable hard-nosed working-girl-with-a-heart-of-gold performances, who befriends Coburn and introduces him to her boyfriend (Robert Cummings)--the leader of the labor unrest. Directed by the stodgy Sam Wood (King's Row), the film flirts with '30s radicalism but settles for prudent class reconciliation: turns out that all the employees want is a little bit of gratitude and respect. Coburn got his first Academy Award nomination for his gruff but ultimately lovable coot (and won the Oscar two years later, opposite Arthur in The More the Merrier), a part he was to play for much of the rest of his career. Some startling deep-focus effects suggest that cinematographer Harry Stradling may have been spying on Citizen Kane, shooting just down the hall at RKO. Ultimately, though, it's Arthur who gives the film its authenticity and tremulous charm. --Dave Kehr

Customer Reviews:

  • One of the most delightful romantic comedies of the 40s.
    A first-rate romantic comedy, one of the best of its era. Charles Coburn gets third billing but steals the show in probably his all-time best role, as a "spy" for a large department store, masquerading as a sales clerk. Heartwarming without being overly sentimental, and thoroughly delightful....more info
  • simply one of the best
    this film has been one of my favorites for many years.it tells the story of a man who owns a bunch of department stores that are having labor troubles.he decides to go undercover to find out what all the fuss is about,and boy does he!he ends up being befriended by a countergirl,her friend and her boyfriend.at first he is quite skeptical there is a problem at all,but comes to realise that these are real people with real concerns who deserve better.the best scene is when they go to coney island together,and the countergirl tells him about her feelings about what real true love is.this scene never fails to bring tears to my eyes as her honesty just flows out of her.this film has comedy and social commentary that works equally well.highly recommended for romantic goofs or any jean arthur fan....more info
  • What a Character!
    John P. Merrick (Charles Coburn) is the devil, or at least that is what his employees think. There have been several uprisings in the company, and the events are topped off with a stuffed dummy likeness of Mr. Merrick. The real Merrick is fed up, so he decides to spy undercover. He takes a job as a slipper salesman alongside two women, the kindhearted Mary Jones (Jean Arthur) and sweet Elizabeth Ellis (Spring Byington). Mary's boyfriend Joe (Robert Cummings) is the ringleader of the plot against Merrick stores. This angers Merrick, but he quickly learns why the employees hate working there with secret shoppers breathing down their necks and selfish bosses. Merrick softens up thanks to the company he keeps, and the comedy mounts on a trip to Coney Island.

    This is a breezy, fun film with a very lovable cast. Arthur is sweet as always and Cummings is a wonderful match for her, but it is Coburn who is the real star. It is interesting to see such an elderly character actor as the star, but that is exactly what he is and he carries the film well. He is appropriately funny, sweet, uppity, and lovable.

    Check this one out. You won't be disappointed. ...more info
  • A Warm and Charming Comedy
    "You're just one person against the world unless you've got someone." -- Jean Arthur


    Jean Arthur and Charles Coburn shine in this underrated RKO classic. Perhaps because it isn't zany enough to fall into the true screwball category this warm and charming comedy often gets overlooked when the genre is spoken about. Sam Wood's direction, sets by William Cameron Menzies, a nice score from Roy Webb, and Norman Krasna's funny screenplay all add up to a good time for classic film lovers.

    Charles Coburn is simply adorable as the maligned millionaire who goes undercover in a department store he didn't even know he owned until employees burned a life size dummy of him in effigy which makes the papers. Getting hired on as Tom Higgens so he can root out the people behind it doesn't have quite the outcome he'd intended. Immediately befriended by Mary (Jean Arthur) in the shoe department who loans him 50 cents for lunch because she thinks he's broke, his purpose becomes less clear with each passing day.

    You'll find yourself chuckling as Merrick (Coburn) begins to take down names of management rather than employees in his "doomsday book" for what he experiences. What he also begins to experience is living, finding a friend in the sweet Mary and romance with her pal Elizabeth (Spring Byington). Robert Cummings is delightful as Mary's boyfriend, Joe O'Brien, who also happens to be the idealistic voice behind those workers revolting! S.S. Sakall is also endearing as Merrick's valet.

    There are some fun scenes on the boardwalk and a mix-up which nearly lands them all in jail until Joe does some fast talking. Arthur never seemed more vulnerable than in a sweet scene on the beach where it is she who asks Joe to marry her, and gets turned down because he doesn't want to disappoint her. As Merrick gets more and more involved in his undercover life, and further from his real one, he begins to look at his wealth as something of a handicap!

    A great ending which will make you glad you watched this one push a good film over the top into the 5 star range. Don't miss Coburn's fight with a young brat he's hired to make him look good. It's a riot! ...more info
  • Coburn Stars In This Charmer
    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.
    ...more info
  • When will Devil and miss jones be on DVD ???
    I am waiting for this fun movied to be on DVD or bluray ....
    Come on ....
    Plus African Queen ...
    Bob...more info
  • One of the best comedies of the 1940s
    When I first got a VCR The Devil And Miss Jones was one of the first tapes that I bought. I used to watch it every time that it came on TV and enjoyed it every time! It is a very warm and funny movie. There are very few movies of its type being made today and that is very sad....more info
  • A classic too long overlooked
    I adore this movie. It has a charm that time can't dilute. The references to labor unrest and class differences resonate in today's world, and the performances are lovely. A true standard for romantic comedy. The term sounds more frivolous than this small jewel of a movie deserves. ...more info