7.7/10
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87 user 46 critic

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.

Director:

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. 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)

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
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Four different endings were filmed, but all were ultimately deemed unsatisfactory during previews. A letter from an audience member suggested a fifth ending, which Frank Capra liked and used in the finished film. See more »

Goofs

When the Governor sits, the ear piece of his glasses changes position between shots. 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

Referenced in The Hudsucker Proxy (1994) See more »

Soundtracks

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