Thursday, May 15, 2008

Meet John Doe (1941)

One star.
I like Frank Capra. At least, I thought I did. This movie was SO sappy, that I found myself wondering what Capra's reputation was. I didn't have to look any further than IMDB:
"Critics dubbed his movies as "Capra-corn" for their simple and sappy storylines."

This movie is about a spunky female reporter - so far so good - with a great wardrobe - right up my alley, right? - who makes up a letter from a "John Doe" to save her job. The ruse works well - so well that she has to produce the John Doe.

Enter Gary Cooper. (At this point I remembered that I still hate Gary Cooper for looking strikingly like the guy who broke my friend's heart but I decided to try to ignore that). Gary Cooper is a down-on-his luck guy who just wants to play baseball and he brings in tow a paranoid bum who just wants to play harmonica. Gary Cooper also enjoys playing harmonica. He agrees to play John Doe.

And, that's about it. I did watch most of this movie. I watched the beginning, most of the middle, and the end. The guy turns out to be inspiring to a lot of people, "little people" they keep calling them. Small-time people with sad stories who he then inspires to do good deeds rinse, repeat.

Then he realizes he's being manipulated for the benefit of people he doesn't like, then he becomes disillusioned, then, at the very end, he becomes illusioned again, miraculously. I'm sorry if I'm spoiling this for you but really, it's just awful.

Maybe Capra had to make this to figure out how much better it would be if, in a It's A Wonderful Life the disillusionment came at the start of the movie and then you looked back on the hopefulness and defeat and then you got right to the miraculous re-illusionment. If so, I'm glad he made this movie. But I never, ever plan to watch it again, spunky female reporter with great outfits notwithstanding.

1 comment:

Cheryl said...

The right arc makes all the difference. I saw a movie (Stop-Loss) and a play (Emergency) recently that had a lot to offer, but the stories and endings were forced or nonsensical. I'm a plot-hater by nature, but sometimes I have to admit it can make or break a story.