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The Devil and Miss Jones

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Devil and Miss Jones
Theatrical release poster
Directed bySam Wood
Written byNorman Krasna
Produced byFrank Ross
Starring
CinematographyHarry Stradling Sr.
Edited bySherman Todd
Music byRoy Webb
Production
company
Frank Ross-Norma Krasna
Distributed byRKO Radio Pictures
Release dates
  • April 4, 1941 (1941-04-04) (Miami)[1]
  • April 11, 1941 (1941-04-11) (U.S.)
Running time
92 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$664,000[2]
Box office$1.4 million[2]

The Devil and Miss Jones is a 1941 American comedy film directed by Sam Wood and starring Jean Arthur, Robert Cummings, and Charles Coburn. Its plot follows a department store tycoon who goes undercover in one of his Manhattan shops to ferret union organizers, but instead becomes involved in the employees' personal lives.

With a screenplay by Norman Krasna, the film was the product of an independent collaboration between Krasna and producer Frank Ross (Jean Arthur's husband). Their short-lived production company released two films through RKO Radio Pictures (Miss Jones and the later A Lady Takes a Chance released in 1943). The film was well received by critics upon its release and garnered Oscar nominations for Coburn and Krasna.

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Transcription

Plot

Cantankerous tycoon John P. Merrick goes undercover as a shoe clerk at "Neely's", one of his New York department stores, to identify agitators trying to form a union, after seeing a newspaper picture of his employees hanging him in effigy.

In the store he takes on a new persona, Thomas Higgins. After almost failing the minimum intelligence test he is sent to join the shoe department. There he befriends fellow clerk Mary Jones and her recently fired boyfriend Joe O'Brien, a labor union organizer. As time goes on, his experiences cause him to grow more sympathetic to his workers. He also starts to fall in love with sweet-natured clerk Elizabeth Ellis.

During a beach day at Coney Island with his coworkers, John begins to see a different side of Joe after he helps him avoid an arrest at a local police station by reciting the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence. Afterwards John joins Joe, Elizabeth, and Mary on the beach, where he and Elizabeth nap until dark. Believing the two to be fully asleep, Joe and Mary discuss the union attempts and the future of their relationship. Unbeknownst to them, John listens in and after Joe leaves he pretends to awake, taking the opportunity to grab a list Joe dropped of employees willing to strike.

The remaining trio then travel home via subway, where John drops a card showing that his undercover persona was working for Merrick. This, along with other factors, causes Mary to come to the conclusion that John is a spy, and she tells Joe. Desperate to regain the list, Joe and Mary try unsuccessfully and they, along with John, end up in the store manager's office. Disgusted with the treatment of the employees, John berates the store manager, who is unaware of John's true identity. Emboldened by John, Mary declares that they have a list of 400 employees who will strike. The manager tricks the group into giving him the list. When they realize the manager's deceit, John and Mary take back the list and destroy it by eating it, after which Mary uses the intercom system to successfully encourage the entire store to strike.

In the following days, all of the employees picket Merrick's home. John decides to finally reveal his identity and has Mary, Elizabeth, and Joe meet him and his staff to discuss terms. They are initially unaware of his identity, but upon discovery, Joe faints, Mary screams, and Elizabeth stares up at John in disbelief as John asks her if she would be willing to go back on a statement she made about not wanting to marry a rich man. The film then cuts to a wedding party on a cruise liner, showing that there has been a joint wedding: John has married Elizabeth and Mary has married Joe. The party is made up of all of the store employees and it is shown that John has paid for all of them to take a Hawaiian vacation.

Cast

Production

Frank Ross and Norman Krasna decided to produce a movie together starring Jean Arthur (Ross's wife) based on a story by Krasna. The three formed a partnership and borrowed $600,000 from a bank to finance the film.[4]

The script was written in ten weeks, and then Sam Wood came on board as director. Krasna described the experience of making the film as one of the best in his career.[5]

RKO agreed to distribute the film. It was Arthur's first film at RKO since The Ex-Mrs. Bradford.[6] Robert Cummings was signed to play the male lead; he was shooting a film at MGM concurrently.

Filming

Filming started December 16, 1940.[7] It finished February 1941.[8]

Filming had to stop for nine days so that Robert Cummings could shoot extra scenes at MGM in Free and Easy in late January.[9]

The film needed three days of retakes, which included adding a role for Montagu Love.[10]

Release

The Devil and Miss Jones had an early screening in New Orleans on April 2, 1941,[11] followed by a premiere in Miami, Florida on April 4, 1941.[1]

Box office

The film grossed $1,421,000 in the United States, making a profit of $117,000.[2]

Accolades

Adaptations to other media

On November 14, 1941, Philip Morris Playhouse presented a version of The Devil and Miss Jones on CBS radio. The adaptation starred Lana Turner.[12] The story was also adapted as a radio play on two broadcasts of Lux Radio Theatre, first on January 19, 1942, with Turner and Lionel Barrymore, then on March 12, 1945, with Linda Darnell and Frank Morgan. It was also adapted twice on The Screen Guild Theater, first on June 7, 1943, with Laraine Day, Charles Coburn and George Murphy, again on August 12, 1946, with Van Johnson and Donna Reed. It was also adapted on the October 23, 1946 broadcast of Academy Award Theater, starring Charles Coburn[13] and Virginia Mayo.

In 1950 Ross announced he wanted to make the film as a musical for his then wife Joan Caulfield. However, it was never made.[14]

References

  1. ^ a b "The Devil and Miss Jones: Detail View". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. American Film Institute. Retrieved April 13, 2014.
  2. ^ a b c Jewell 1994, p. 56.
  3. ^ "Minta Durfee Filmography". Turner Classic Movies. Archived from the original on October 19, 2015. Retrieved March 13, 2020.
  4. ^ By Frank Daugherty Special to The Christian Science Monitor. (1941, Mar 07). "Easy to make a picture, if combination is right." The Christian Science Monitor
  5. ^ Krasna, Norman (May 18, 1941). "Some Authors Die Happy". The New York Times. p. X4.
  6. ^ Churchill, Douglas W. (May 16, 1940). "SCREEN NEWS HERE AND IN HOLLYWOOD". The New York Times. ProQuest 105347374.
  7. ^ "Clark Gable Goes Hunting". Los Angeles Times. December 9, 1940. p. 14 – via Newspapers.com.
  8. ^ "United States Court of Appeals For the Ninth Circuit - Cummings vs Universal 1944". p. 565 – via Internet Archive.
  9. ^ Schallert, Edwin (February 3, 1941). "Annabella to resume; R.K.O. salaries upped". Los Angeles Times. p. 14 – via Newspapers.com.
  10. ^ Churchill, Douglas W. (March 8, 1941). "Conflict over Lillian Gish appearing in film seen -- 'Night in Rio' and 'Mad Emperor' open today". The New York Times. ProQuest 106130419.
  11. ^ Grosjean, Frank (April 3, 1941). "'The Devil and Miss Jones' Given Acclaim at New Orleans Preview". The Shreveport Times. p. 16 – via Newspapers.com.
  12. ^ "Lana Turner Friday Star on 'Playhouse'". Harrisburg Telegraph. November 8, 1941. p. 22. Retrieved July 22, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.
  13. ^ "Charles Coburn Is 'Academy' Star". Harrisburg Telegraph. October 19, 1946. p. 17. Retrieved September 29, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.
  14. ^ Schallert, Edwin (January 28, 1950). "Drama: 'Devil and Miss Jones' Set as Musical; Wayne Would Direct 'Alamo;". Los Angeles Times. p. 11.

Sources

  • Jewell, Richard (1994). "RKO Film Grosses, 1929–51". Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television. Vol. 14. pp. 51–58. ISSN 0143-9685.

External links

Streaming audio

This page was last edited on 20 March 2024, at 18:39
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