THE DEVIL AND MISS JONES (1941)


This picture Directed by Sam Wood for RKO STUDIOS is an odd film to view.  Not so much because of the  story which is of a Millionaire goes undercover at his own store to find the people responsible for hanging his effigy from a  street light as protest but  because of the main characters.

It follows  the genre of  the ‘Oppressed workers  against big business” which would  follow with other films giving rise  to what some would later  say were communist throughs

Actor Charles Coburn who’s distinctive speech style reminds me of  Fred Mac Murray in MY THREE SONS on television in the 1960’s(William Demarest who played “Uncle Charlie” in MY THREE SONS when William Frawley left is also in this  film in small role) to  chirpy, crusading Jean Arthur have this low  key chemistry that did not seem to make the picture go.

NIGHT FLIGHT (1933)  made by Clarence Brown and  starred  Clark Gable, Helen Hayes, Lionel Barrymore, Robert Montgomery and Myrna Loy with a powerhouse story of flying serum over mountains  also suffered  from something not quite right feeling and  did not  do well.

The DEVIL IN MISS JONES features  dialogue which  very pointed and  exploitative almost one could say preachy in its  tone especially towards the  end .  The picture also opens with a contrived  Devil and  Hell fire prologue featuring  Jean Arthur.  Through the  film: Arthur does  her best as  the oppressed worker of  a  large  Department store who unknowingly befriends her undercover boss  on his mission.

What does lift the film is the  work of  screen  veteran Spring Byington as the older store  employee Elizabeth Ellis who becomes a love interest.  Her quiet mannered ways and  voice  add a  sincerity to the story as  boyish Robert Montgomery crashes about the beach scenes.

 

The  Coney Island  war time  crowded  beach  moments  really do add  a  different look to beach recreation.   People literally upon people in the sand trying to get  some  recreation  followed  by some  comedy bits  with Charles Coburn in a beach shop.

THE  DEVIL  AND MISS JONES  gave  Charles Coburn a Best Supporting actor nomination for the Academy awards along with Norman Krasna for best Original Screenplay

S. Z.  Sakall  is  a  standout in limited screen time as  the  butler of  Charles  Coburns  character.   Its a shame he did not get chance to play the role of the millionaire owner but he  was not a  box office star.

THE  DEVIL AND MISS JONES works on a  different  level due  it odd interaction  so settle back in your slippers you just bought: relax  and  see it  for  yourself. You will not need a  receipt.

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