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Beautifully restored by ClassicFlix, in collaboration with the Library of Congress, Frank Capra's powerful everyman drama Meet John Doe (1941) starring Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck makes its Blu-ray debut.
Desperate to get her newspaper job back after being downsized, columnist Ann Mitchell (Barbara Stanwyck) figures to create some "fireworks" by contriving a letter from "John Doe"—a man so disgusted with the state of the world that in protest he vows to jump off the roof of city hall at midnight on Christmas Eve. Public reaction to the letter is so overwhelming that Ann not only keeps her job, but she and editor Henry Connell (James Gleason) connive to hire a real John Doe in order to maintain the deception.
Enter "Long John" Willoughby (Gary Cooper), a ball player turned drifter due to a bum arm, and so determined to get his wing fixed that he’s ready, willing and able to play the part. Although his sidekick "The Colonel" (Walter Brennan) disapproves highly of the scheme, Willoughby enjoys the lavish gifts and attention bestowed upon his new-found celebrity in what becomes a "glorious movement". Trouble soon starts, however, when publisher D.B. Norton (Edward Arnold) decides to use John Doe to further his own ruthless political ambitions, running roughshod over Ann and John, or anyone who gets in his way.
In the first of three cinematic pairings, Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck give brilliantly memorable individual performances, but also display a subdued, yet magnetic, chemistry in each of their scenes together. Outstanding support also comes from a bevy of character greats including James Gleason, Walter Brennan, Edward Arnold, Spring Byington and Gene Lockhart, as well as notable performances by Rod La Rocque (in his final film), Irving Bacon, Regis Toomey, Ann Doran and J. Farrell MacDonald.
Based on Richard Connell’s 1922 short story "A Reputation", director Frank Capra chose Meet John Doe as the first release for his newly-formed Frank Capra Productions, which he established with longtime writer-collaborator Robert Riskin, who wrote the screenplay for Doe. A box office success, Doe would also garner an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Story (for Connell and Robert Presnell, Sr.).
Length: 123 minutes
Released: March 26, 2024
Misc: NTSC, Black & White, Region Free
Language: English (Original Language), English (Subtitled)