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Meet John Doe (1941)

Not Rated | | 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:

Frank Capra

Writers:

Richard Connell (based on a story by), Robert Presnell Sr. (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:
Gary Cooper ... John Doe
Barbara Stanwyck ... Ann Mitchell
Edward Arnold ... D.B. Norton
Walter Brennan ... The 'Colonel'
Spring Byington ... Mrs. Mitchell
James Gleason ... Henry
Gene Lockhart ... Mayor Lovett
Rod La Rocque ... Ted Sheldon
Irving Bacon ... Beany
Regis Toomey ... Bert
J. Farrell MacDonald ... 'Sourpuss'
Warren Hymer ... Angelface
Harry Holman ... Mayor Hawkins
Andrew Tombes ... Spencer
Pierre Watkin ... 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:

Frank Capra's Production for 1941 See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

3 May 1941 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Frank Capra's 'Meet John Doe' See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Frank Capra Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Frank Capra went into production without a clear idea of how the film should end. He shot or edited five endings and previewed two. In one, the film ended with John being disgraced at the John Doe Convention and Henry Connell saying, "Well, boys, you can chalk another one up to the Pontius Pilates." Preview audiences found that version too depressing. Another ending actually had John committing suicide, with The Colonel cradling his dead body in his arms and saying, "Long John, you poor fool. You poor sucker." Robert Riskin preferred this ending, but Capra was unconvinced and feared the suicide would cause problems with the Catholic Church. He also had a version in which Ann talks John out of committing suicide and a variation in which John's merry Christmas with Henry causes the corrupt publisher to see the light. Undecided, Capra released different versions of the ending for the film's initial engagements in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, DC. Finally, a comment from one of the previews inspired a fifth ending, in which some of the original John Doe Club members show up to tell Willoughby they had never stopped believing in him. That also would allow Capra to deal with another problem pointed out by preview audiences and in letters from angry fans--the depiction of Willoughby's followers as a fickle herd easily swayed by the film's corrupt politicians. Capra shot the new ending and had prints called back from theaters so it could be added before the film went into national release. Years later he would say that even that ending wasn't quite right. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Henry Connel: Lighthouses, John. Lighthouses in a foggy world.
See more »

Alternate Versions

Also available in a computer-colorized version. See more »

Connections

Featured in Finished (1997) See more »

Soundtracks

SILENT NIGHT
(1818) (uncredited)
Written by Franz Xaver Gruber
Performed by Hall Johnson Choir
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Wonderful!!!~
9 January 2000 | by Elizabeth-328See all my reviews

This is a great movie. Gary Cooper is wonderful as John. At first, he does it for the money, but then, he feels bad because some people really have faith in him, and trust him. He feels guilty about being a fake. My favorite part is when he says:

"The John Doe idea may be the answer though! It may be the one thing capable of saving this cockeyed world. Yet you sit back there on your fat hulks and tell me you'll kill it if you can't use it. Well you go ahead and try, you couldn't do it in a million years with all your radio stations and all your power. Because it's bigger than whether I'm a fake, it's bigger than your ambitions and it's bigger than all the bracelets and fur coats in the world!"

I also think Barbara Stanwyck gives a wonderful performance as Ann. I love it when he's standing on the building, threatening to jump, and she tells him that she loves him, and the world does too, and they'll forgive him for lying. I cried so much!

I first saw this movie on Christmas Eve and I loved it. I guarantee it will be a tradition for many Christmases to come!


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