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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 8,318 users  
Reviews: 79 user | 43 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) (as Robert Presnell) , 2 more credits »
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Title: Meet John Doe (1941)

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »

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Just before Christmas, Lee Leander is caught shoplifting. It is her third offense. She is prosecuted by John Sargent. He postpones the trial because it is hard to get a conviction at ... See full summary »

Director: Mitchell Leisen
Stars: Barbara Stanwyck, Fred MacMurray, Beulah Bondi
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
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

Director Frank Capra tested the film in different areas of the US with four different endings to determine which one to keep. In one, John Willoughby commits suicide. In another, Ann Mitchell persuades him not to leap from City Hall. Inspired by a letter signed "John Doe," Capra filmed a fifth and final ending in which Mitchell talks some sense into Willoughby and then faints into his arms. See more »

Goofs

When Ann is struggling to write John Doe's radio speech, she balls up one draft and throws the paper on the floor in disgust. The dog picks up the crumpled paper and approaches the apparently empty wastebasket. After the cut, when the dog drops the paper into the wastebasket, the wastebasket is full. See more »

Quotes

The Colonel: I don't read no papers, and I don't listen to radios either. I know the world's been shaved by a drunken barber, and I don't have to read it.
See more »

Connections

Spoofed in Meet John Doughboy (1941) See more »

Soundtracks

Hard Times Come Again No More
(1854) (uncredited)
Written by Stephen Foster
Performed by The Hall Johnson Choir
See more »

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User Reviews

Capra and Riskin at their best
26 December 2000 | by (Seattle, Washington) – See all my reviews

There is so much to recommend this film, especially in repeat viewings. I'll try to touch on things rarely mentioned. The opening credit montage that ends with a solitary newborn in a hospital ward speaks volumes, as does the opening scene: the jackhammering of the old Bulletin cornerstone. The dream that Long John tells Ann about, in which he plays a dual role, is a warm and economic device for letting us know about what he feels for her and why she could go for her. The near-monologue of Bert, the "soda jerker," is as masterful in its sustained understatement as the small-town mayor's bumbling is hilarious. All of Capra's sound films starting with "American Madness" employ an effective, trademark montage, but "Meet John Doe" overflows with three. The Colonel's joyous Three Little Pigs dance inside the freight car to the rhythm of the rails is joyous. The Jesus metaphor throughout becomes heavyhanded at the very end but is saved by the dead-on final line about "the people." Finally, the movie succeeds not just because of its attributes that can carry over to other forms of art such as books or plays, but also because it is a uniquely cinematic experience.


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