7.7/10
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Meet John Doe (1941)

Passed | | Comedy, Drama, Romance | 3 May 1941 (USA)
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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Writers:

(based on a story by), (based on a story by) (as Robert Presnell) | 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
The 'Colonel'
...
Mrs. Mitchell
...
Henry
...
Mayor Lovett
...
Ted Sheldon
...
...
Bert
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'Sourpuss'
...
Angelface
Harry Holman ...
Mayor Hawkins
Andrew Tombes ...
Spencer
...
Hammett
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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) See more »

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:

 »
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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Regarding the "sweet potatoes" that Gary Cooper and Walter Brennan play, in addition to "Hi Diddle Dee Dee (An Actor's Life For Me)", from Pinocchio (1940): Brennan alone plays this on an ocarina (sweet potato), but Cooper plays a small harmonica. The tune they play as a duet, while Barbara Stanwyck is interviewing them, is The "William Tell Overture, Finale" by Gioachino Rossini (popularly known as "The Lone Ranger Theme"). Cooper explains that the reason Brennan likes him is that they both play "doohickeys". 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

Beany: What's a helot?
The Colonel: You've ever been broke, sonny?
Beany: Sure, mostly often.
The Colonel: All right. You're walking along, not a nickel in your jeans, your free as the wind, nobody bothers ya. Hundreds of people pass you by in every line of business: shoes, hats, automobiles, radios, everything, and there all nice lovable people and they lets you alone, is that right? Then you get a hold of some dough and what happens, all those nice sweet lovable people become helots, a lotta heels. They begin to creep up on ya, ...
See more »

Connections

Featured in Great Adaptations: 50 Movie Mega Pack (2016) See more »

Soundtracks

Hi-Diddle-Dee-Dee
(1939) (uncredited)
Music by Leigh Harline
Played on ocarina by Walter Brennan
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User Reviews

 
Who is John Doe?
25 July 2004 | by (UK) – See all my reviews

This film is a classic example of a movie working effortlessly on a range of different layers. Capra weaves his well-loved everyman through a tale of both simplicity and political intrigue, taking in the American depression and Biblical references along the way, and comes up with messages that remain startlingly relevant today, over six decades after this movie's release.

Gary Cooper delivers a masterful performance, and in keeping with the film, achieves this with a deceptively easy touch. He is supported by a peerless cast which includes Barbara Stanwyck and Walter Brennan, both on top form.

Perhaps most impressive is the illustration of Capra's democratic ideal by including the views of the audience throughout the story. You can find all your views being voiced by different characters at various points in the tale, opening the question of just who is the average everyman that Capra is seeking to show? - and how do they relate to you?

This movie is ten stars all over. Even for keen Capra fans, the expectation is surpassed by the final delivery. Thoroughly recommended.


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