Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A few words on Jean Arthur/The Devil and Miss Jones

Jean Arthur rarely ranks among the very greatest stars of all time. That's both unfair - and kind of fitting.

It's unfair because Arthur had an irresistible charm, and what made it so irresistible was that she wasn't really trying to lay on the charm, like, say, Marilyn Monroe - she just naturally was. And yet her not falling into most greatest stars lists is appropriate, because she had a way about her that was different from other great players. She didn't have the effervescence of Audrey Hepburn or the snap of the other Hepburn, Kate - but her characters combined a shield of sass that masked a core of romanticism. That made her fascinating.

I've seen quite a few of her pictures (as they called them back in her day), and many of them are flat-out classics. Even if they're not, they're at the least very good, partly because she's in them. Such is the case with The Devil and Miss Jones (1941, Sam Wood) which I watched last night. Charles Coburn stars as an uber-wealthy department store owner who poses as a lowly employee to thwart unionizers  - and one of those employees is Arthur.

The movie loses focus whenever it concentrates on anyone besides Coburn and Arthur, especially toward the end, but on the whole, it's great fun and well worth seeing. Jean Arthur always is.


The Jean Arthur films I've seen:

Mr. Deeds Goes to Town
You Can't Take it With You
Only Angels Have Wings
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
The Talk of the Town
A Foreign Affair

PS - Whatever you do, don't mix this up with The Devil IN Miss Jones. 'Nuff said.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I've seen all the listed pictures with Jean Arthur. I like her wit and her style. She seems like the girl next door, but smarter and more real. She's got it all cutes, wit and smarts. I love the Devil and Miss Jones. This is cunning and she plays VERY well with Coburn who is fantastic in this picture. I think Jean doesn't get enough credit for the quality in which she can bring to a picture. I also like her in Talk of the Town. This is a very political picture for the day with social injustice with a bit if humor. It seems to be that she and Cary had a very nice rapport as it just jumps off the picture. However you are never completely sure what Jean's character will do in the end - pick the judge or the wrongly accused. I love that she could pull it off. That takes true talent! Don' you think?