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Meet John Doe (1941)

Passed  -  Comedy | Drama | Romance  -  3 May 1941 (USA)
7.7
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 7,780 users  
Reviews: 78 user | 39 critic

A man needing money agrees to impersonate a nonexistent person who said he'd be committing suicide as a protest, and a political movement begins.

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(based on a story by), (based on a story by), 2 more credits »
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Title: Meet John Doe (1941)

Meet John Doe (1941) on IMDb 7.7/10

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
D.B. Norton
...
The 'Colonel'
...
Mrs. Mitchell
...
Henry
...
Mayor Lovett
...
Ted Sheldon
Irving Bacon ...
...
Bert (credit only)
J. Farrell MacDonald ...
'Sourpuss'
Warren Hymer ...
Angelface
Harry Holman ...
Mayor Hawkins
Andrew Tombes ...
Spencer
Pierre Watkin ...
Hammett
Edit

Storyline

As a parting shot, fired reporter Ann Mitchell prints a fake letter from unemployed "John Doe," who threatens suicide in protest of social ills. The paper is forced to rehire Ann and hires John Willoughby to impersonate "Doe." Ann and her bosses cynically milk the story for all it's worth, until the made-up "John Doe" philosophy starts a whole political movement. At last everyone, even Ann, takes her creation seriously...but publisher D.B. Norton has a secret plan. Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

ALL AMERICA WANTS TO MEET THE "MR. DEEDS" OF 1941! (original print media ad - all caps)

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

3 May 1941 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Frank Capra's 'Meet John Doe'  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Frank Capra didn't want anyone to play John Doe except Gary Cooper, who agreed to the part (without reading a script) for two reasons: he had enjoyed working with Capra on Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936) and he wanted to work with Barbara Stanwyck. See more »

Goofs

During the montage showing John Doe Clubs gaining in popularity, closeups of a map are shown with flags being pinned up for every new club. At the end of the montage, the camera pulls back to show a map of the entire US. However, the final map has substantially fewer flags pinned to it than what was shown during the closeups. See more »

Quotes

Long John Willoughby: [gets carried away spanking his own knees as he describes his dream to Ann]
Long John Willoughby: So I came down and I whacked you a good one, see? Then he whacked you, and I whacked you another one, and we both started whackin' you like...
Long John Willoughby: [stops abruptly when he realizes Beany is standing right behind him]
Beany: Well if you're through whackin' her, c'mon let's get goin'.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Dawson's Creek: Boyfriend (1998) See more »

Soundtracks

California, Here I Come
(1921) (uncredited)
Written by Buddy G. DeSylva and Joseph Meyer
Played in the score
See more »

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User Reviews

 
The third film in Capra's unofficial trilogy is darkly wonderful.
4 March 2008 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

After doing Mr Deeds Goes To Town and Mr Smith Goes To Washington for Columbia, Capra quit and made this third film about an average Joe thrust into a powerful world where exploitation is high on the agenda, but in true Capra style the story unfolds to a customary flip flop triumph.

Ann Mitchell is a struggling journalist who gets fired from her newspaper job by new editor Henry Connell, by way of venting her frustrations she writes in her stinging last article about a man called John Doe who is tired of being pushed around and held back by the big bosses, she finishes the piece by claiming that Doe will commit suicide on Christmas Eve by leaping off the roof of city hall, the public react to the letter with tremendous heart and Doe becomes a champion of the people.

After Connell gets interested in the letter Ann has to confess that she made it up, they hatch a plan to turn a real unemployed drop out into John Doe so as to continue the story and sell more papers, and of course Ann gets to keep her job. This brings in ex minor league pitcher Long John Willoughby, who is down on his luck and very short of cash, and this is when the story shifts from amiable comedy on to a much darker path, the result making for a riveting watch.

Whilst not being up with the best Capra films in his armoury, it is, however, one of his smartest. The portrayal of the human spirit in many guises is stark and poignant, whilst thematically Capra got his point over about the unsavoury elements blossoming in America. The cast are nailed on watchable, Gary Cooper is John Doe, the right amount of sympathy and guts is garnered from his performance, and in one rousing speech he has the viewers in the palm of his hand. Barbara Stanwyck is Ann Mitchell and she delivers a great turn that calls for a number of emotions to be performed convincingly, while the support cast are all solid with the stand out a bizarrely unnerving Edward Arnold as D B. Norton; a man wishing to be a dictator if ever there was one. 10/10


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