All, now for Miss Jones -- not to be confused with the similarly titled The Devil in Miss Jones which is very different to be sure. The Devil and Miss Jones stars the always luminous Jean Arthur (I seem to love that word luminous) who's also very funny. I want to see You Can't Take it With You right now! She's just glorious in that. It also stars the very funny Charles Coburn (you might know him best from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes where he was diamond mine owner Sir Charles Beekman AKA Piggy). Spring Byington charms as Arthur's friend Elizabeth and Robert Cummings plays the passionate labour organiser Joe.
It's almost impossible to imagine this film getting the green light. In a world where Hollywood has made a hero of millionaire industrialists like Tony Stark (the theme seems to be 'he's an asshole, but he's our asshole') and sold the idea that your personal fortune is just around the corner, it's amazing to see this picture that's completely on the side of the working people. In the current American climate, where "patriotism" has been writ as straight-laced morality and obedience to corporate overlords, it's astounding to see a film in praise of what is now the Occupy Wall Street folk. How has it become a radical notion to suggest that working people have rights and should be treated with dignity? It only takes Coburn's millionaire Merrick a few days with the plucky poor to realise how horrible his policies (and his empty life) have been. Cumming's impassioned delivery of the Declaration of Independence in the police station shows the vast gap between the patriotism of the former ideals of freedom and dignity that have been replaced by 'personhood' for corporations and draconian civil engineering masquerading as 'morality'.
The only thing that's kept his film from being acknowledged as a classic is the stumble at the end. It feels as if the filmmakers decided it was going on too long and just wrapped things up a little too quickly. Nevertheless, it's a fun film with plenty of great comedy moments (Jean Arthur's expressions are priceless when she's trying to work up the nerve to knock Coburn out) and an inspiring message.
As always, see the roundup of recommendations over at Sweet Freedom.