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theoddone33

Meet John Doe (1941)

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I didn't see a thread specifically for this movie, so I'm starting one in prep for a Top 100 nomination.

I'm not sure, but I'm guessing this is a lesser known Capra film, and I suppose it's Gary Cooper's second most famous role. I'd never heard of it until a few months ago when I caught the end on TCM. Last night I realized I had a copy of it and had totally forgotten, so I watched the entire movie tonight for the first time. Gary Cooper plays a transient hired to portray a desperate man as a scheme to increase newspaper circulation, but when he becomes the figurehead for a movement of brotherly love, he starts to believe in the things he's been paid to say.

Cooper's John Doe is reminiscent of a Christ figure. From his message, which inspires millions to start loving their neighbor, to his "crucifixion", to the overt reference to Christ in Barbara Stanwyck's final frenzied speech: "Well, you don't have to die to keep the John Doe ideal alive. Someone already died for that once. The first John Doe. And he's kept that ideal alive for nearly 2,000 years. It was He who kept it alive in them. And He'll go on keeping it alive for ever and always - for every John Doe movement these men kill, a new one will be born."

I ended up being impressed with this film on a lot of levels. It felt a lot like Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, though with "brotherly love" substituted for "honest politics". I see that it didn't make the A&F Top 100 in 2004, but I think it at least deserves a nomination this year.

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Will we nominate Mr. Deeds Goes to Town? I see a strong social gospel element in Mr. Deeds.

My understanding is that nominations are just made by someone who feels the particular film is worthy. So I guess the answer to "Will we nominate _______?" is... "Yes, if someone decides to nominate it."

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I am happy to "second" this nomination for the Top 100 List.

I saw this film by mere chance as a child on broadcast TV on a Saturday afternoon, back in the days when there were ONLY the three networks, and PBS, and maybe one or two independant stations. It deeply touched me and I still vividly remember it all these years later. There are even whole stretches of dialogue that I still remember from it, and I promise you I only saw it once. Every character was so compelling, especially the female lead. Frank Capra had such a feel for women's roles and he crafted them into rich and believable characters of both depth and darkness. While I regret I haven't seen ALL of Capra's filmography, I'd be willing to bet that this one is perhaps the very darkest of his career.

This film explores in a chilling and gritty way the selfish evil hidden just below the surface of all people. And yet in spite of that it DOES offer hope for humanity, as all good Capra films do.

I second this nomination because I think an exploration of our own proclivity toward evil is the most significant spiritual exercise of all.

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