Released Date: May 3, 1941
Director: Frank Capra
Actors: Gary Cooper, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward Arnold, Walter Brennan, Spring Byington, James Gleason, Gene Lockhart, Rod La Rocque, Irving Bacon, Regis Toomey, J. Farrell MacDonald, and Warren Hymer
I would like to start this post by saying that after long searching, there is no longer version of this picture. A lot of film historians went through files and could not find a longer version. What actually happened, and the reason so many believed there was a longer version, was that when this movie was first released, it was said that the movie was 132 minutes long. It wasn't, the movie is 123 minutes long. Which just simply means that the last two numbers were switched. This movie is so well made though, that you don't feel like it is too long. Despite there being a nine minute difference in time, the movie is still a little over two hours long. It was neat to find out that the director didn't want anyone to play John Doe, except Gary Cooper. Cooper said yes to playing the part because he loved working with Capra (which he already worked with in Mr. Deeds Goes to Town) and he also always wanted to work with Miss Barbara Stanwyck. All made a deal in this movie, didn't they. Miss Stanwyck always said that Frank Capra told her to act, not just with words, but with her eyes as well. Something that she always believed to be the best advice she was given.
Ann Mitchell (Barbara Stanwyck) has just been fired from her newspaper job. And to give her boss a piece of her mind, and a great parting gift, she writes a letter. The letter states that this man, a one John Doe, is jobless and wants to commit suicide on Christmas Eve. Ann makes sure her boss gets the letter, and not only that, but has it published for the newspaper. Ann goes into her bosses office a few days later and tells him the truth. But because the story is so big, what will they do to tell the public? Ann recommends that they look for a regular American who won't give their secret away. Her boss enjoys this idea, not at first, but after some heavy thinking (smoke coming outta his ears and everything) he decides to do it. There is a huge line of men outside of his office, all claiming to have written the letter. Ann says that they should interview them all and pick out the right John Doe. They decline the first bunch when the perfect man walks through the door. Their John Doe (Gary Cooper). Not only is he tall and handsome, also in need of money, but he use to play baseball. What could be more American than that? He agrees to be Doe. He also needs his arm fixed, he stopped playing baseball after a major arm injury. His arm can be fixed and better yet, he can play baseball again. Everything looks great, but what about one small detail, once it is finally out that he lied, he probably won't be playing baseball after that. Will he go through with it? Find out, by watching Meet John Doe!!!
This movie is super cute and also has a warm Christmas feel at the end of the movie. With a black and white Christmas, you can never go wrong.