Meet John Doe (1941)

Passed  |   |  Comedy, Drama, Romance  |  3 May 1941 (USA)
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Reviews: 80 user | 44 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.



(based on a story by), (based on a story by) (as Robert Presnell) , 2 more credits »
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
The 'Colonel'
Mrs. Mitchell
Mayor Lovett
Ted Sheldon
Irving Bacon ...
Bert (credit only)
J. Farrell MacDonald ...
Warren Hymer ...
Harry Holman ...
Mayor Hawkins
Andrew Tombes ...
Pierre Watkin ...


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 <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


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


Comedy | Drama | Romance


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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
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Did You Know?


The first film Frank Capra produced independent of the Hollywood studios. See more »


The collar of John Doe's coat is alternately up and down between shots when Ann is persuading him not to jump off the roof. See more »


The Colonel: [criticizing John's anti-separatism speech] Tear down fences... why, if you tore one picket off your neighbor's fence, he'd sue you!
See more »


Featured in Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Villains (2002) See more »


America (My Country 'Tis of Thee)
Music from "God Save the King!" 1744
Written by Henry Carey
Played in the score
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User Reviews

Pollyanna eh?
9 April 1999 | by (Verdun, Quebec) – See all my reviews

This film offers a standing rebuke to critics who use the term "Capracorn". None of Capra's films are as blindly optimistic as is often argued, but this one is a pitch-black jeremiad against manipulation by the media. The mob scene at the "John Doe" convention is one of the powerful scenes ever filmed. Stanwyck is incredible as reporter Anne Mitchell. She is one of the great actresses of the century, and she always did her best work Capra, whose female characters are generally more compelling to the women we get in the movies of our "liberated" era. Cooper is fantastic as a truly "average" guy who is "awakened" by his experience with the John Doe movement, and Edward Arnold is absolutely terrifying in the role of Fascist D.B. Norton. This film is even more relevant today than when it was made, and I would argue that it should be viewed in high schools across the continent. Capra is asking his viewers to think critically of EVERYTHING they hear on the radio or see in papers or hear from elites, and amen to that!

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