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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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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