Movie Review: Meet John Doe
By Agnes Gault ‘13, student, School for Graduate Studies
April 24, 2014
Directed by Frank Capra (1941). Based on a story by Richard Connell and Robert Presnell.
Available at your local library, TCM and or Youtube with a link provided: http://youtu.be/9jOf8GD4S7E
The classic movie, “Meet John Doe” is a masterpiece directed by Frank Capra and delivered with perfection by Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck. Supporting actors Walter Brennan, Edward Arnold, James Gleason, playing the new managing editor of the “paper,” and Jean Lockhart, who plays Mr. Norton, help to deliver every line and emotion flawlessly.
The plot of “Meet John Doe” begins with a newspaper agency that has just gone through restructuring. The new management lays off some of the employees including Barbara Stanwyck’s character who retaliates by inventing a down on his luck man who intends to commit suicide at midnight on Christmas Eve. Stanwyck’s character goes to all lengths to form alliances with politically ambitious Norton, while keeping her own ambitions for wealth and stature firmly in mind.
Stanwyck’s firework story is believed by the mayor, and the political elites. Clubs based on the principles of John Doe form all across the country, whipping people into a frenzy. They either want to adopt John Doe or to destroy him.
This unmitigated disaster which started as a cruel joke has to be contained, but can it? The only thing the media can do is find someone to play “John Doe.” This is the journey audiences are about to embark upon. Who is John Doe and his values? As you watch this movie, you are introduced to a concept of a neighbour and the question becomes…do you really know your neighbour? Are perceptions reality? Can new and revived relations come out of the truth when we take the time to know a neighbour? Can we truly believe what we see and hear from the media because someone wrote it? A question of credibility is at stake and it is very high!
This is a serious and comedic movie with a plot that is simply incredible to watch. The cinematography truly captures moments in the movie with excellent emphasis. Music selections are timeless from John Doe’s first meeting with clubs, his first taste of fame, his relationship with Barbara, his friend, and a convention center packed with delegates.
Enjoy the Show!