It happened again last night. I told myself — “I’ll just watch the credits.” After all it was a movie I’d seen a half dozen times. But of course I watched it all the way through.
The film is over 70 years old but it hits all the right notes of what a movie should be. The subject is timely. Workers’ rights. What protections does an employee have if after 10 or 20 years service they can be let go just because they can be replaced by cheaper labor?
The love stories are current. One couple facing possible separation because the man can’t find job in the same town as the girl and won’t live off her salary. The second (older couple) finding each other late in life, realizing that money isn’t as important as emotional connections.
The acting is superb. There’s comedy. Poignancy.
Back to the credits. The film stars Jean Arthur, name above the title, in fact title card all to herself. It says Frank Ross and Norman Krasna present Jean Arthur.
Then the name of the picture. The Devil (with the face of Charles Coburn)–then the next title card–And Miss Jones (with the face of Jean Arthur). The next card says: With Robert Cummings, Charles Coburn, (and in smaller type) Spring Byington, Edmund Gwenn, S.Z. Sakall, and William Demarest.
The Devil and Miss Jones, released by RKO in 1941, holds up today. See it. (Don’t confuse it with the porno film The Devil IN Miss Jones.)
Although Arthur is top billed, Coburn is the real star of this movie. He received an Oscar nomination as did writer Krasna. Both well deserved. If you don’t know Bob Cummings work you’ll be surprised at his performance.
In films he was always billed as Robert Cummings although his greatest success was as Bob Cummings on tv starting in 1952 in a short-lived comedy series, My Hero. His roles in such series as Love That Bob, The Bob Cummings Show and My Living Doll made the actor one of the biggest tube stars of the Fifties and Sixties.
And watch for a bit from that great character actress Florence Bates.
The love triangle between senior citizens Coburn, Byington and Gwenn was reprised 10 years later in a delightful film, Louisa.
Miss Jones was a huge success at the time. Made for $600,000 and grossing a million and a half. More importantly, it stands the test of time, the definition of a true movie classic.