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MEET JOHN DOE

FRANK CAPRA

This film screened 18th December 2010.

A tramp (Gary Cooper) is hired to embody the frustrations of the common man in a publicity stunt concocted by a desperate reporter (Barbara Stanwyck). Quickly becoming a national hero, he starts to believe the words put into his mouth, only to find himself the dupe in a scheme of a ruthless tycoon (Edward Arnold) to obtain political power.

This is the darkest and most provocative of Capra’s moral fables, ostensibly an anti-Fascist tract but also showing his beloved masses as worryingly conformist, fickle and prone to manipulation. Everything builds to two of the most thrilling set-pieces in his entire body of work: a mass rally in the rain where the hero is denounced as a fake; and a Christmas Eve showdown on top of the Empire State building between the forces of good and evil, with the now demoralised John Doe caught in the middle and staring into possible oblivion.

122 minutes| U.S.A.| 1941| Black and White| 35mm

Screenings

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