Meet John Doe (1941) by Frank Capra with Gary Cooper & Barbara Stanwyck

Dandelion Salad

Timeless Classic Movies on Jul 28, 2012

Meet John Doe is a 1941 comedy drama film directed and produced by Frank Capra and starring Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck. The film, about a “grassroots” political campaign, created unwittingly by a newspaper columnist and pursued by a wealthy businessman, became a box office hit and was nominated for an Academy Award for best original story (for Richard Connell and Robert Presnell Sr.). The film was screenwriter Robert Riskin’s last collaboration with Capra. The screenplay was derived from a 1939 film treatment, titled “The Life and Death of John Doe,” written by Richard Connell and Robert Presnell who would go on to be the recipients of the film’s sole Academy Awards nomination for Best Original Story. The treatment was based upon Connell’s 1922 Century Magazine story titled “A Reputation.” Gary Cooper was always Frank Capra’s first choice to play John Doe. Cooper had agreed to the part without reading a script for two reasons: he had enjoyed working with Capra on their earlier collaboration, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936) and he wanted to work with Barbara Stanwyck. The role of the hardbitten news reporter, however, was initially offered to Ann Sheridan, the first choice for the role had been turned down by Warner Bros. due to a contract dispute, and Olivia de Havilland.

Plot : Infuriated at being laid off from her job as a newspaper columnist, Ann Mitchell (Barbara Stanwyck) prints a fake letter from the unemployed “John Doe,” threatening suicide in protest of society’s ills. When the note causes a sensation, the newspaper is forced to rehire Mitchell. Together, the paper and Ann hire John Willoughby (Gary Cooper), a former baseball player and tramp, to play John Doe. The Doe philosophy spreads across the country, developing into a political movement, with financial support from the newspaper’s publisher, D.B. Norton (Edward Arnold), who plans to channel the support for Doe into support for his own political ambitions…


Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)

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