Meet John Doe (1941) - Rotten Tomatoes

Meet John Doe1941

Meet John Doe (1941)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Meet John Doe Photos

Movie Info

The first of director Frank Capra's independent productions (in partnership with Robert Riskin), Meet John Doe begins with the end of reporter Ann Mitchell's (Barbara Stanwyck) job. Fired as part of a downsizing move, she ends her last column with an imaginary letter written by "John Doe." Angered at the ill treatment of America's little people, the fabricated Doe announces that he's going to jump off City Hall on Christmas Eve. When the phony letter goes to press, it causes a public sensation. Seeking to secure her job, Mitchell talks her managing editor (James Gleason) into playing up the John Doe letter for all it's worth; but to ward off accusations from rival papers that the letter was bogus, they decide to hire someone to pose as John Doe: a ballplayer-turned-hobo (Gary Cooper), who'll do anything for three squares and a place to sleep. "John Doe" and his traveling companion The Colonel (Walter Brennan) are ensconced in a luxury hotel while Mitchell continues churning out chunks of John Doe philosophy. When newspaper publisher D.B. Norton (Edward Arnold), a fascistic type with presidential aspirations, decides to use Doe as his ticket to the White House, he puts Doe on the radio to deliver inspirational speeches to the masses -- ghost-written by Mitchell, who, it is implied, has become the publisher's mistress. The central message of the Doe speeches is "Love Thy Neighbor," though, conceived in cynicism, the speeches strike so responsive a chord with the public that John Doe clubs pop up all over the country. Believing he is working for the good of America, Cooper agrees to front the National John Doe Movement -- until he discovers that Norton plans to exploit Doe in order to create a third political party and impose a virtual dictatorship on the country. The last of Capra's "social statement" films, Meet John Doe posted a profit, although Capra and Riskin were forced to dissolve their corporation due to excessive taxes.

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Gary Cooper
as Long John Willoughby, John Doe
Barbara Stanwyck
as Ann Mitchell
Walter Brennan
as The Colonel
Edward Arnold
as D.B. Norton
James Gleason
as Henry Connell
Spring Byington
as Mrs. Mitchell
Gene Lockhart
as Mayor Lovett
Rod La Rocque
as Ted Sheldon
Regis Toomey
as Bert Hansen
Warren Hymer
as Angelface
Aldrich Bowker
as Pop Dwyer
Ann Doran
as Mrs. Hansen
Madge Crane
as Mrs. Brewster
J. Farrell MacDonald
as Sourpuss Smithers
Carlotta Jelm
as Ann's Sister
Tina Thayer
as Ann's Sister
Bennie Bartlett
as Red, the Office Boy
Sarah Edwards
as Mrs. Hawkins
Garry Owen
as Sign Painter
Charles C. Wilson
as Charlie Dawson
Edward Earle
as Radio MC
M.J. Frankovich
as Radio Announcer
Margaret Crane
as Mrs. Brewster
Harry Holman
as Mayor Hawkins
Bess Flowers
as Newspaper Secretary
Emma Tansey
as Mrs. Delaney
Selmer Jackson
as Radio Announcers at Convention
Knox Manning
as Radio Announcers at Convention
John B. Hughes
as Radio Announcers at Convention
Frank Austin
as Grubbel
Edward Keane
as Relief Administrator
Edward McWade
as Joe, Newsman
Guy Usher
as Bixler
Walter Soderling
as Barrington
John Hamilton
as Jim, Governor's Associate
William Forrest
as Governor's Associate
Charles K. French
as Fired reporter
Edward Hearn
as Mayor's secretary
Hank Mann
as Ed, a Photographer
James Millican
as Photographer
Harry Davenport
as Ex-owner of Bulletin
Paul Everton
as GOP man
Mary Benoit
as Secretary
Mildred Coles
as Secretary
Eddie Kane
as Tycoon
Melvin Lang
as Foreign Dignitary
Alphonse Martell
as Foreign Dignitary
Edwin Stanley
as Democrat
Isabelle La Mal
as Chamber of Commerce Member
Alfred Hall
as Chamber of Commerce Member
George Melford
as Chamber of Commerce Member
Henry Roquemore
as Chamber of Commerce Member
John Ince
as Doctor
Gail Newbray
as Telephone Operator
Earl Bunn
as Policeman
Edmund Cobb
as Policeman
Jack Cheatham
as Policeman
Lew Davis
as Electrician
Howard Chase
as Electrician
Floyd Criswell
as Electrician
Carl Ekberg
as Reporter
Frank Fanning
as Reporter
Walter Finden
as Photographer
Jack Gardner
as Photographer
William Gould
as Sergeant
Kenneth Harlan
as Publicity Man
Richard Kipling
as Police Commissioner
Forbes Murray
as Legislator
Maris Wrixon
as Autograph hound
Susan Peters
as Autograph Hound
Frank Mayo
as Attendant
Lucie Carroll
as Bit Part
Claire Meade
as Bit Part
Elsa Peterson
as Bit Part
Sada Simmons
as Bit Part
Bessie Wade
as Bit Part
Lillian West
as Bit Part
Mack Gray
as Bit Part
Jay Guedillio
as Bit Part
Donald Hall
as Bit Part
Frank Jaquet
as Police Desk Sergeant
Larry McGrath
as Bit Part
Joe McGuinn
as Bit Part
Tom McGuire
as Bit Part
Frank Moran
as Bit part
Clark Morgan
as Bit Part
Bob Perry
as Delegate
Hal Price
as Bit Part
Stanley Price
as Bit Part
Don Roberts
as Bit Part
Ed Williams
as Bit Part
Max Blum
as Bit Part
Sidney Bracey
as Club Member
Glen Cavender
as Bit Part
Inez Gay
as Bit Part
Sally Sage
as Bit Part
Eddie Graham
as Tall Autograph Hound
Stuart Holmes
as Bit Part
Al Lloyd
as Bit Part
Paul Panzer
as Bit Part
Jack Richardson
as Man in Diner
Leo White
as Bit Part
Tom Wilson
as Man in Diner / Man in Radio Station Audience
Jack Wise
as Delegate
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News & Interviews for Meet John Doe

Critic Reviews for Meet John Doe

All Critics (22)

A smooth. Capracareful film replete with social preachment and a magnificent portrayal by Gary Cooper.

October 30, 2019 | Full Review…

The movie is superb, dynamic, masterful. [Full review in Spanish]

September 17, 2019 | Full Review…

Like Stewart's Mr. Smith, Gary Cooper's acting choices, while more subtle than Stewart, deeply connect you with his character's plight and therefore solidly hook you into hopes for his happy ending, his redemption.

July 24, 2019 | Full Review…

It's a stronger and far less dated film than his overpraised It's a Wonderful Life.

March 22, 2018 | Full Review…

[VIDEO ESSAY] Wikipedia lists "Meet John Doe" as an "American comedy film." How wrong they are.

August 10, 2014 | Rating: A | Full Review…

Journalistic ethics are only a small aspect of the film, but the implications are long-ranging.

August 16, 2011 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Meet John Doe

Capra, with his immigrant's love of the American dream, can easily be criticized as sometimes syrupy but never as simplistic. Here he grapples with no less than updating the tale of the Christ, making a modern day fable (well, as modern as 1941) of one guy sacrificing himself for the greater whole of humanity. Coop is great as the simple man drawn into corruption and seeking redemption. Walter Brennan shines as his friend, a crazy homeless guy and the sanest man in the film, James Gleason is perfect as the common sense common man, and Barbara Stanwyck lights the proceedings as the too smart regular gal, unaware that she needs saving as much as anyone. Just fine, nuanced filmmaking!

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer


Another Capra masterpiece that is still relevant today. Cooper and Brennan are great.

Graham Jones
Graham Jones

Super Reviewer

This is a remarkable movie, and a great performance from Stanwyck. I highly recommend this movie.

Aj V
Aj V

Super Reviewer

Meet John Doe Quotes

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