The Devil and Miss Jones (1941, Sam Wood)

Would be a decent enough movie – good concept but plot problems and sometimes clunky direction – but oh, the cast! A few months after The Lady Eve, someone had the smarts to hire a bunch of Preston Sturges players (Coburn, Demarest, and I’m counting Jean Arthur from Easy Living) along with Cuddles Sakall (same year as Ball of Fire) and Spring Byington (You Can’t Take It With You) and throw ’em all together. I was worried that the unknowns (Edmund Gwenn as a cranky boss and Robert Cummings as Jean’s labor-organizer love-interest, both Hitchcock actors) would drag down the cast, but no, everyone was great.

Coburn is supposedly a reclusive tyrant businessman whose response to any trouble is to fire people, but when he goes undercover at his own department store to ferret out pro-unionists he immediately turns into a teddy bear and falls for a fellow worker (Byington) in the shoe department. His new friends, Jean and Robert, are leading the labor fight, and though Coburn easily gets their list of sympathizers, he decides – instead of firing everyone on the list – to have a double wedding and take everyone on a Hawaiian cruise.

Wood made a couple of Marx Brothers movies and writer Norman Krasna did Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Indiscreet and White Christmas. Nominated for two oscars alongside The Devil Pays Off and The Devil and Daniel Webster, a diabolical year.