Feature Film

Classic - Thriller - Drama - Romance

United States 1941 | 122 Min

Meet John Doe

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The true cause can be hidden in a lie


Classic Thriller Drama Romance


politics newspaper




After being laid off from her newspaper job, Ann Mitchell writes a letter from a fictional unemployed "John Doe" threatening suicide on Christmas Eve in protest of society's ills. When the letter causes a sensation among readers, and the paper's competition suspects a fraud and starts to investigate. Editor Henry Connell rehires Ann, who schemes to boost the newspaper's sales by exploiting the fictional John Doe. Ann and Henry hire John Willoughby, a former baseball player and tramp in need of money, to play the role of John Doe. Ann starts to pen a series of articles in Doe's name, elaborating on the original letter's ideas of society's disregard for people in need. The John Doe philosophy spreads across the country: "Be a better neighbor". Meanwhile Norton plans his own national political ambitions with the help of Willoughby. Norton instructs Ann to write a speech for Willoughby in which he announces the foundation of a new political party and endorses Norton as its presidential candidate. On the night of the rally, John, who has come to believe in the John Doe philosophy himself, and learns of Norton's treachery. He denounces Norton and Norton exposes Doe as a fake. Despondent at letting his now-angry followers down, John plans to commit suicide by jumping from the roof of the City Hall on Christmas Eve, as indicated in the original John Doe letter. Ann, who has fallen in love with John, desperately tries to talk him out of jumping. Convinced not to kill himself, John leaves, carrying a fainted Ann in his arms, and Henry turns to Norton and says, "There you are, Norton! The people! Try and lick


Frank Capra


Robert Riskin


Gary Cooper
Barbara Stanwyck


Frank Capra


George Barnes

Production Designer

Stephen Goosson


Daniel Mandell


Dimitri Tiomkin