Meet John Doe: Alternate Endings | American Film: Movies and Media Culture
Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck in Meet John Doe () Gary Cooper and Edward .. (original print media ad - all caps) See more» but the cigarette at this point is no longer burning and the end is already bent over showing that it had. Even Capra couldn't end a movie with Hitler playing a harmonica. -Andrew Bergman(2). The storyline of Meet John Doe echoes that of an earlier Capra film, The Miracle Richard Connell and Robert Presnell used Connell's original story and. Meet John Doe, American comedy drama film, released in , that was director Frank Capra was forced by the studio to cut his original ending, in which.
Funny thing happened, Americans from all over started to rally around the cause of the John and Jane Does. He became a national phenomenon, clubs started to form, people joined each other in local meetings, neighbors who barely knew each other said hello, and found out these strangers were really human beings, and became friends.
Of course, the Mr. Potter-like politician tried to exploit and hijack the movement for his own greedy goals. I wont write what happened, so those who haven't seen the movie can enjoy and see themselves.
But one funny thing did happen. Gary Cooper's John Doe came to believe the thing, it started out a hoax but John Doe became real, alive, and moving to a whole country that was hurting and looking for things to believe in. The average guys and gals who believe in the Golden Rule, who believe our word is our bond, who always try to tell the truth, who know that America is a nation of neighbors, who come from places far apart but share mortgages, frustrations, ambitions and dreams and a love for an America that makes everything possible.
As you'll see in the movie, the John Does can be frightened by the appeal to fear and distrust and can be bullied into the rule of the mob at times. But there is an innate goodness and decency to the Does, like America, the John Does have their internal self-correcting clocks, when they go wrong, their basic goodness ultimately sets things right. The John Does don't get invited to the fancy party by the pool, where the important and the self-important kiss face with the stars.
They don't get invited to the secret White House meetings, they don't hustle for the special privileges or have the vanity to worry about what Page Six says about them, or whether they are on a first name basis with the politicians who pretend to be their friend. The John Does are the guys and gals who heard Paul Revere riding and came out at Lexington and Concord, the quiet heroes who believe in right and wrong. The John Does are the folks who don't have much, but put a little in the collection box on Friday night or Sunday, and when they watch the news, they often shake their heads, and talk quietly among themselves about how to set things right.
Sometimes the John and Jane Does are fooled by the voices of hatred or fear, usually from those who wave their false flags of red, white and blue but always, in the end, in our America, the real America, truth will out, and the John Does and Jane Does come through with the flying colors of the true red, white and blue. When called to service, they don't find the slick way out, they answer the call.
When the see hunger in the community, they quietly man the soup kitchens, or give a little, even if they dont have much, themselves Gary Cooper was always one of my favorites. He embodied the kind of old fashioned, good natured Americanism. He was a little bit conservative and he did testify before the un-American Activities Committee, but never gave away a name, betrayed a friend, or sold out the truth for convenience or opportunism, One of Cooper's best friends was Hemingway, and his favorite words came from the original John Donne poem that become the title of Hemingway's great novel: We are well into the film before we ever see D.
Norton, although his pervasive influence is felt from the beginning of the film in jackhammers, layoffs, and telephone calls.
Capra noted in the margin of his shooting script that Norton should be found reading Hitler's Mein Kampf and possessing medals and Legion of Honor ribbons. Capra needed an American hero to do battle with this villain. Clearly, this is a film that wants a hero: Connell expresses this desire when he describes Jefferson and Lincoln as "lighthouses in a foggy world," a phrase Capra repeated in his World War II documentaries.
Some critics believed John Willoughby supplied such a hero: Charles Maland compared Willoughby to previous Capra heroes and found him "more vernacular Richard Glatzer concluded, "There is in the first half of Meet John Doe no traditional moral sense similar to those that energized Longfellow Deeds and Jefferson Smith.
Meet John Doe () - IMDb
He agrees to act the John Doe role because he wants to get his pitching arm fixed so he can return to bush-league baseball. Even after he makes his stirring radio speech, he remains unmoved: Willoughby emphasizes this rootlessness when he tells Mitchell and Connell that he has no family.
In earlier Capra films, the idea of 'fatherlessness' usually meant that the hero's father--and often the hardboiled girl reporter's father as well--was deceased, but the father's memory provided a wellspring of idealism. In Doe, however, the father is completely lost.
Mitchell and Connell both mention their fathers in an idealized way, but Willoughby is not able to draw upon them for inspiration and guidance. Willoughby is converted to the cause eventually, but even this, as Richard Glatzer noted, doesn't assure us of an innate goodness in him: Raymond Carney argued that most Hollywood films "offer dramas based essentially on the conflict of various fixed character types," but that Doe took "the creation of the free character itself as [its] subject.
Carney believed that Norton's appeal rested in his ability to offer "the bribe of a stable identity John Willoughby poses with the "little people" Meet John Doe was Capra's study of the process of character invention, and by extension, of hero invention.
In Doe he moves from mythmaker to mythologist. Capra, like other mythologists like Dixon Wecter and Walter Lippmann, became interested in collective myths and heroes as "strategic railroad centers, where many roads meet regardless of their point of origin or where they are going. A political strategist claiming these junction centers successfully enough to convince the public of his right to be there, controls the highroads of mass policy With such a fulcrum he can move a hundred million people.
Later in the film, the press cynically manipulates American symbols by having Willoughby pose with a pair of midgets, who represent American citizens as "the little people. Raymond Carney noted how Capra effected this visually through cutting during Willoughby's radio speech.
Meet John Doe - Wikipedia
During the first two or three minutes of the speech, "in this era before television commercials, Capra cuts at the rate of a television commercial, manically slicing through and around the spaces surrounding Doe.
The basis of Hollywood editing--the point-of-view editing convention that intercuts the respective points of view of one, two, or three ideal observers The different takes or cuts of John's radio speech do not cohere into one ideally complete personal view of it; rather, the oppositie is true. Willoughby attempts to circumvent these forces at the John Doe convention.
Following the crowd's sung injunction to "let freedom ring," Willoughby steps up to the microphone but is silenced when Norton's troopers cut the microphone wires.
- Meet John Doe
- Meet John Doe: Alternate Endings
Carney felt Capra's close-up of the wire cutting was "almost as tangible and painful as if we were watching John's vocal cords being cut before our eyes"; in previous Capra films, "individual speakers were at least hypothetically still at the center of institutions. Capra declawed his John Doe clubs by insisting, as soda jerk Bert Hansen does to the Millsville mayor, that no politicians would be able to join. The John Doe clubs' solution to all social ills was an increase in neighborliness.
Critic Herbert Biberman took Capra to task for this, asking "Are you counseling that politics be wiped completely out of American life, or only out of the life of the common people? You would apparently counsel the people to give up politics even though the fascist newspaper owner does not Who is the initiator of the John Doe clubs?
No; the fascist newspaper owner, who wished to use the discontent of the people to gain his own ends. This was not the way the Abolitionist Clubs grew. The John Does in this film don't want to hear hard truths: People are tired of hearing nothing but doom and despair on the radio.
If you're going to have him say anything, why don't you let him say something simple One audience member shouts, "Speak up, John! The mayor of Millsville holds a similarly dim view of his constituents. When Norton arrives at the City Hall, the mayor tells the townsfolk, "Everybody on your dignity. Don't do anything to disgrace us. When an filmgoer wrote Capra a letter objecting to the club members' betrayal of Doe and their riot, Capra responded"Your point is that the John Does wouldn't have turned on John Doe.
You say you wouldn't do it, and neither would any other John Does. I say the world today is a pretty good example they do do it. Capra shot the subsequent ending in August at a Los Angeles icehouse.
This version of the film ended with Ann arriving on the City Hall roof, pleading with Willoughby, and fainting after she says "I love you, John"; he abandons his suicide plans and carries her out. Capra added a tag scene to this ending in his script, although there is no evidence it was ever filmed. He wanted to add a scene showing Mitchell and Willoughby in a small town attempting to revive the John Doe clubs. The townspeople snub their efforts, and the film closes with a close-up of the Colonel looking directly and the camera and warning the audience, "Listen, you heelots.
I'm giving you just one more chance. Willoughby is unmoved by Ann's pleas and in desperation she cries for divine intervention. Because it is Christmas, John is transformed.
Gary Cooper Does Frank Capra: Meet John Doe, American
He wishes Norton a Merry Christmas. Norton's fascist tendencies dissolve, he orders Connell to print the true story in paper, and the Colonel concludes, "Well, looks like I gotta give the heelots one more chance.Meet John Doe (1941) - Ending - (Gary Cooper & Barbara Stanwyck)
He kept Norton's conversion but replaced the Colonel's closing line with a chorus which combined Christmas carols and "My Country 'Tis of Thee. Ultimately Capra had the Millsville club members come to Willoughby's aid. In a passage from his autobiography, Capra claimed that this ending was the suggestion of an anonymous audience member who sent him a letter signed "John Doe. The character of Willoughby clearly represents the failure of the individual hero to challenge a system.
Raymond Carney wrote, "Between the attitudes of Whitman and Poe concerning self-distribution, it is Poe who is the presiding spirit of this film. Capra's vision is a nightmare inversion of his previous belief in the individual's ability to improvise an identity and to revise and adjust it as necessary