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Meet John Doe

  • Directed by Frank Capra
  • United States, 1941, 122 mins., English

A film about an unexpected media sensation run amok on the American public, Meet John Doe stars Barbara Stanwyck as about-to-be-unemployed newspaper reporter Ann Mitchell, who, as a final act of defiance, pens a fake letter to the editor about a John Doe who will commit suicide on Christmas in protest of rampant social injustice and deepening income inequality. But when the public latches on to the letter, Ann is hired back to find the fictional John Doe; instead, she recruits bum-armed baseball pitcher Long John Willoughby (a perfectly-cast Gary Cooper) to fill in. But when the John Doe doctrine catches fire with the public even further, can Ann and Willoughby handle it gracefully, or will they be subsumed to the money machine pervading every corner of public-eye life? His final Hollywood film before enlisting in the military and producing the Why We Fight series, Meet John Doe is “pure Capra, run through with the tension between idealism and corruption, faith in the goodness of the common man and acknowledgment in the easy manipulation of people and processes by the rich and powerful for their own gain.”—Sean Axmaker, The Parallax View.

Appears in: Print the Legend

Genres: Drama

Other Films by Frank Capra

American Madness

Producer Harry Cohn made Columbia Pictures one of the key studios of the early 1930s, perhaps the greatest purveyor of screwball comedy, and he forged a long and wildly successful relationship with Frank Capra, still one of Hollywood’s most revered filmmakers. Before films like It Happened One Night and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Capra

Lost Horizon

Written by acclaimed screenwriter Robert Riskin (It Happened One Night, Meet John Doe), and using a great deal of Columbia’s annual production budget, Capra’s fantastical film had a troubled production and even more troubled history, replete with lost footage, multiple endings, piecemeal restorations, and a place in film history as one of the wildest products

It Happened One Night

Both at the peak of their considerable powers, Clark Gable stars opposite Claudette Colbert in Capra’s deeply felt, humane masterpiece of the recently-inaugurated Hays Code era. Ellie Andrews (Colbert), running from her father in the wake of her elopement with a dashing pilot, meets struggling newspaper reporter Peter Warne (Gable) on a New-York-to-Florida bus. Peter