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The Devil and Miss Jones is a 1941 comedy film starring Jean Arthur, Robert Cummings, and Charles Coburn. Directed by Sam Wood and scripted 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 1943's A Lady Takes a Chance). The film was well received by critics upon its release and garnered Academy Award nominations for Coburn and Krasna.

The Devil and Miss Jones
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Sam Wood
Produced by Frank Ross
Written by Norman Krasna
Music by Roy Webb
Cinematography Harry Stradling, Sr.
Edited by Sherman Todd
Frank Ross-Norma Krasna
Distributed by RKO Radio Pictures
Release date
  • April 4, 1941 (1941-04-04) (Miami)[1]
  • April 11, 1941 (1941-04-11) (USA)
Running time
92 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $664,000[2]
Box office $1,421,000[2]



Cantankerous tycoon John P. Merrick (Charles Coburn) goes undercover as a shoe clerk at his own New York department store to identify agitators trying to form a union, after seeing a newspaper picture of his employees hanging him in effigy. He befriends fellow clerk Mary Jones (Jean Arthur) and her recently fired boyfriend Joe O'Brien (Robert Cummings), a labor union organizer. Through his firsthand experiences, he grows more sympathetic to the needs of his workers, while finding unexpected love with sweet-natured clerk Elizabeth Ellis (Spring Byington).



Frank Ross and Norman Krasna decided to produce a movie together starring Jean Arthur based on a story by Krasna. They formed a partnership with Ross, Krasna and Arthur (who was Ross' wife) and borrowed $600,000 from the bank.[3]

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.[4]

RKO agreed to distribute the film. It was Arthur's first film at RKO since The Ex-Mrs Bradford.[5] Robert Cummings was signed to play the male lead; he was shooting a film at MGM concurrently.

Filming started 16 December 1940.[6]

Filming had to stop for nine days so Robert Cummings could shoot extra scenes at MGM in Free and Easy.[7]

The film needed three days of re shoots included adding a role for Montagu Love.[8]

Box officeEdit

The film made a profit of $117,000.[2]

Academy Award nominationsEdit

Adaptations to other mediaEdit

On November 14, 1941, Philip Morris Playhouse presented The Devil and Miss Jones. The adaptation starred Lana Turner.[9] The story was also adapted as a radio play on two broadcasts of Lux Radio Theater, first on January 19, 1942 with Lana 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[10] and Virginia Mayo.


  1. ^ "The Devil and Miss Jones: Detail View". American Film Institute. Retrieved April 13, 2014.
  2. ^ a b c Richard Jewel, 'RKO Film Grosses: 1931-1951', Historical Journal of Film Radio and Television, Vol 14 No 1, 1994 p56
  3. ^ 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 (1908-Current File) Retrieved from
  4. ^ NORMAN KRASNA (18 May 1941) "SOME AUTHORS DIE HAPPY", New York Times, p. X4, New York, N.Y
  5. ^ By DOUGLAS W CHURCHILL Special to The New York Times. (1940, May 16). SCREEN NEWS HERE AND IN HOLLYWOOD. New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from
  6. ^ CLARK GABLE GOES HUNTING. (1940, Dec 09). Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from
  7. ^ Schallert, E. (1941, Feb 03). Annabella to resume; R.K.O. salaries upped. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from
  8. ^ By DOUGLAS W CHURCHILLSpecial to The New York Times. (1941, Mar 08). Conflict over lillian gish appearing in film seen -- 'night in rio' and 'mad emperor' open today. New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from
  9. ^ "Lana Turner Friday Star on 'Playhouse'". Harrisburg Telegraph. November 8, 1941. p. 22. Retrieved July 22, 2015 – via  
  10. ^ "Charles Coburn Is 'Academy' Star". Harrisburg Telegraph. October 19, 1946. p. 17. Retrieved September 29, 2015 – via  

External linksEdit