The LikeTelevision Movie channel proudly presents - Meet John Doe - with Gary Cooper, Barbara Stanwyck, Walter Brennan, and Edward Arnold. Based on the Richard Connell novel, a newspaper publicity stunt designed to increase circulation (yes, fake news), creates John Doe, (Gary Cooper)to tell the story of the little people. Barbara Stanwyck plays Miss Mitchell, the ambitious journalist who starts the marketing campaign and writes John's speeches. Like Peggy Noonan and Ronald Reagan, only John Doe isn't President, he's just a nobody.
Meet John Doe
Directed by - Frank Capra
(1941) - B&W - 124 min
Ann Mitchell (Barbara Stanwyck) gets laid off from the newspaper - that was just bought by D.B. Norton, an oil mogul with political ambitions. (Early "down-sizing" by Wall Street). She decides to write her last column about a letter from John Doe, who plans to jump off the building because the world has lost it's humanity. But it's all made up - there is no John Doe.
Barbara Stanwyck as the ambitious reporter, Miss Ann Mitchell, who is the brains behind the John Doe publicity stunt.
Yep - that's Billy Curtis, who plays Buck Lawson in The Terror of Tiny Town
The readers eat up her story and the paper starts looking for a suitable John Doe, to play John Doe. They select John Willowby (Gary Cooper) - a washed-up bush league pitcher who hurt his arm, and lost his job. We also meet "the colonel", played by Walter Brennan.
Okay - D.B. Norton likes the revenues from the increased circulation, and decides to broadcast a speech by John Doe on his radio stations. Of course, Ann Mitchell will write the speech - and she cops words out of her dead father's diary for the text. Meanwhile, The Chronicle, the rival newspaper, offers to bribe John Doe to read another speech for $5,000. Lots of marketing, photo-ops, including one with some midgets from The Terror of Tiny Town. (see below). Plus ... his first big speech.
Meet John Doe
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John Doe's first radio broadcast.
John Willowby has had it as John Doe, and decides to bolt with the colonel by hopping on train. They travel to a small town, where he is recognized as John Doe and learns that the people have started a John Doe Club in his honor. In fact... all over the country - John Doe clubs are opening. And politicians are gathering like ants at a picnic, wanting a piece of the action. Sorry - no politicians allowed.
Edward Arnold as the evil D.B. Norton
D.B. Norton, who has been financing many of the clubs, decides to hold a National John Doe Convention. Miss Mitchell gets in deeper with Norton and starts to get expensive gifts from the old man - we also learn that John Doe will recommend D.B. Norton for the candidate of a new party - The John Doe Party. Meanwhile... John is falling for Ann Mitchell.
John meets with Connor, the editor from the newspaper owned by Norton. Connor tells John the truth about how he's being used by Norton and Ann Mitchell. So John breaks up a big meeting with "the power brokers" and tells them he's going to fix them when he gives his speech later that night.
Right before John gives his speech, Norton steps up to the microphone and reveals John Doe is a fake. He has no chance to defend himself as someone cuts the mic cable. Will the John Doe movement collapse? Will he jump off the building on Christmas Eve? Watch the stunning conclusion.