Meet John Doe

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Overview

The first of director Frank Capra's independent productions (in partnership with Robert Riskin), Meet John Doe begins with the end of reporter Ann Mitchell's (Barbara Stanwyck) job. Fired as part of a downsizing move, she ends her last column with an imaginary letter written by "John Doe." Angered at the ill treatment of America's little people, the fabricated Doe announces that he's going to jump off City Hall on Christmas Eve. When the phony letter goes to press, it causes a public sensation. Seeking to secure ...
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Overview

The first of director Frank Capra's independent productions (in partnership with Robert Riskin), Meet John Doe begins with the end of reporter Ann Mitchell's (Barbara Stanwyck) job. Fired as part of a downsizing move, she ends her last column with an imaginary letter written by "John Doe." Angered at the ill treatment of America's little people, the fabricated Doe announces that he's going to jump off City Hall on Christmas Eve. When the phony letter goes to press, it causes a public sensation. Seeking to secure her job, Mitchell talks her managing editor (James Gleason) into playing up the John Doe letter for all it's worth; but to ward off accusations from rival papers that the letter was bogus, they decide to hire someone to pose as John Doe: a ballplayer-turned-hobo (Gary Cooper), who'll do anything for three squares and a place to sleep. "John Doe" and his traveling companion The Colonel (Walter Brennan) are ensconced in a luxury hotel while Mitchell continues churning out chunks of John Doe philosophy. When newspaper publisher D.B. Norton (Edward Arnold), a fascistic type with presidential aspirations, decides to use Doe as his ticket to the White House, he puts Doe on the radio to deliver inspirational speeches to the masses -- ghost-written by Mitchell, who, it is implied, has become the publisher's mistress. The central message of the Doe speeches is "Love Thy Neighbor," though, conceived in cynicism, the speeches strike so responsive a chord with the public that John Doe clubs pop up all over the country. Believing he is working for the good of America, Cooper agrees to front the National John Doe Movement -- until he discovers that Norton plans to exploit Doe in order to create a third political party and impose a virtual dictatorship on the country. The last of Capra's "social statement" films, Meet John Doe posted a profit, although Capra and Riskin were forced to dissolve their corporation due to excessive taxes.
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Special Features

[None specified]
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Bruce Eder
Meet John Doe is the Frank Capra movie that spoke most directly to the mood of the United States at the time that it was made. It's a fundamentally pessimistic film, without a positive resolution, and also an astonishingly mature movie -- virtually groundbreaking as a "message" movie aimed at a mainstream audience. Appearing in 1940, it closed out a decade that had been dominated by despair, disillusionment, dislocation (economic and personal), and desperation, a period characterized by a reliance on often inept government officials or duplicitous would-be leaders. All of these elements are present in Meet John Doe from its opening scene (a mass layoff at a newspaper), and they get addressed over and over again as the plot unfolds. The movie also had the courage to put some very attractive stars -- Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck -- in some very unattractive roles, as two people putting over a huge fraud on a public that trusts them. It wasn't considered a very successful film in its own time, being a little too dark and mature amid the ominous reality of the European war being waged at the time, but it is probably the best of Capra's "message" pictures and his best slice-of-life drama other than It Happened One Night. One scene, in which Cooper's Long John Willoughby tries to address the crowd and is cut off, was mimicked (some would say perverted) in real life during the 1980 presidential campaign, when Ronald Reagan defiantly resisted being cut off during the New Hampshire debates. It was life imitating art, and Reagan played it even better than Cooper did in the movie.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 8/26/2003
  • UPC: 025493071399
  • Original Release: 1941
  • Rating:

  • Source: Passport
  • Region Code: 0
  • Aspect Ratio: Pre-1954 Standard (1.33.1)
  • Presentation: Black & White
  • Language: English
  • Time: 2:50:00
  • Format: DVD

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Gary Cooper Long John Willoughby, John Doe
Barbara Stanwyck Ann Mitchell
Edward Arnold D.B. Norton
Walter Brennan The Colonel
Spring Byington Mrs. Mitchell
James Gleason Henry Connell
Gene Lockhart Mayor Lovett
Rod La Rocque Ted Sheldon
Irving Bacon Beany
Regis Toomey Bert Hansen
John Farrell MacDonald Sourpuss Smithers
Warren Hymer Angelface
Harry Holman Mayor Hawkins
Andrew Tombes Spencer
Pierre Watkin Hammett
Stanley Andrews Weston
Mitchell Lewis Bennett
Charles Wilson Charlie Dawson
Vaughan Glaser Governor
Sterling Holloway Dan
Mike J. Frankovich Radio Announcer
Knox Manning Radio Announcer at Convention
John B. Hughes Radio Announcers at Convention
Mary Benoit
Sidney Bracey
Fritzi Brunette
Glen Cavender
Jack Cheatham Policeman
Mildred Coles Secretary
Margaret Crane Mrs. Brewster
Carl Ekberg
Frank Fanning
Eddie Fetherstone Reporter
Jack Gardner Photographer
William Gould Sergeant
Mack Gray
The Hall Johnson Choir
Alfred Hall
Kenneth Harlan Publicity Man
James Harrison
Max Hoffman Jr.
Stuart Holmes
John Ince Doctor
Frank Jaquet
Eddie Kane Tycoon
Richard Kipling Police Commissioner
Melvin Lang
Al Lloyd
Alphonse Martell Foreign Dignitarie
Frank Mayo Attendant
Charles McAvoy
Larry McGrath
Joe McGuinn
Tom McGuire
Claire Meade
George Melford
Frank Meredith
Clark Morgan
Jack Mower
Forbes Murray Legislator
Wedgewood Nowell
Paul Panzer
Edward Peil Sr.
George Pembroke
Bob Perry
Elsa Peterson
Hal Price
Stanley Price
Jack Richardson
Henry Roquemore Chamber of Commerce Member
Thomas W. Ross
Cliff Saum
Wyndham Standing
Charles Trowbridge
Don Turner Guard
Fredrik Vogeding
Bessie Wade
Lillian West
Bernard Wheeler
Leo White
Ed Williams
Lotta Williams
Tom Wilson
Jack Wise
Mrs. Wilfred North
Isabelle La Mal
Earl Bunn
Howard Chase
Floyd Criswell Electrician
Evelyn Dockson
Sada Simmons
Don Roberts
Inez Gay
Sally Sage
Eddie Graham
Frank Austin Grubbel
Aldrich Bowker Pop Dwyer
Bennie Bartlett Red, Office Boy
Suzanne Carnahan Autograph hound
Lucia Carroll Herself
Edmund Cobb Policeman
Billy Curtis Midget
Harry Davenport Ex-owner of Bulletin
Vernon Dent Man
Ann Doran Mrs. Hansen
Edward Earle Radio MC
Sarah Edwards Mrs. Hawkins
Paul Everton GOP man
Johnny Fern Lady Midget
Pat Flaherty Mike
Bess Flowers Matie, Newspaper Secretary
William Forrest Governor's Associate
Charles French Fired reporter
John Hamilton Jim, Governor's Associate
Forrester Harvey Bum
Edward Hearn Mayor's secretary
Selmar Jackson Radio Announcer at Convention
Carlotta Jelm Ann's Sister
Edward Keane Relief Administrator
Hank Mann Ed, a Photographer
Lafe [Lafayette] McKee Mr. Delaney
James McNamara Sheriff
Edward McWade Joe, Newsman
James Millican Photographer
Frank Moran Bit part
Gene Morgan Mug
Garry Owen Sign Painter
Susan Peters Autograph Hound
Walter Soderling Barrington
Edwin Stanley Democrat
Emma Tansey Mrs. Delaney
Tina Thayer Ann's Sister
Cyril Thornton Butler
Guy Usher Bixler
Maris Wrixon Autograph hound
Technical Credits
Frank Capra Director, Producer
George Barnes Cinematographer
Arthur S. Black Jr. Asst. Director
Richard Connell Original Story, Screenwriter
Jack Cosgrove Special Effects
Leo F. Forbstein Musical Direction/Supervision
Stephen Goosson Art Director
Dan Mandell Editor
Robert R. Presnell Sr. Original Story, Screenwriter
C.A. Riggs Sound/Sound Designer
Robert Riskin Screenwriter
Dimitri Tiomkin Score Composer
Natalie Visart Costumes/Costume Designer
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Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. John Doe Opening Titles [3:59]
2. The Letter [10:19]
3. Auditioning for John Doe [12:28]
4. Headlines [17:02]
5. On the Radio [35:40]
6. The Convention [12:11]
7. John Doe a Fake! [10:12]
8. Looking for John Doe [13:34]
9. End Credits [6:02]
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Menu

Side #1 --
   Play
   Chapters
   Bonus
      Hollywood Remembers Gary Cooper
      Hollywood Remembers Barbara Stanwyk
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 9, 2014

    Every American should watch this movie.  As shown in this movie,

    Every American should watch this movie.  As shown in this movie,
    It's going to take caring about your neighbor  and following the truth
     that saves our country again. Also, it reveals how those who want to rule
    over others do it.  Gives us things to think about.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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