Fellow Film Club Members and Movie Buffs:

October is finally chasing the Indian out of our extended summer. As the temperatures plummet at night, and the rains of autumn hover nearby, the most comfortable place for any of you to be is somewhere warm watching a film. Join us this Friday, October 12th at our screening of the Frank Capra classic MEET JOHN DOE (1941), as we further explore the Club’s theme this month:

“The nature of man, how some lead instinctively, while most others have a fervent need to be led–even if it is by corrupt ludicrous politicians, the media, or a cult.”

Frank Capra’s career was called “the American dream personified”. He won three Oscars in close succession; IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT (1934), MR. DEEDS GOES TO TOWN (1936), and YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU (1938), and was nominated for three more. He was one of the few directors of that period who could have their name “above the title”. Although many of his critics called his films “simplistic” and “overly idealistic”, his uplifting themes of the individual triumphing over the corrupt leaders truly resonated with the Depression era audiences. MEET JOHN DOE (1941) was considered Capra’s most controversial movie, called “a deliberate reaffirmation of America values.” He filmed four different endings, including one in which John Willoughly committed suicide, and he let the preview audiences choose the one they preferred. Capra was famous for saving time on a schedule, because on one day he would shoot only long shots, another day the medium shots, and a different day for the close-ups, and this way he did not waste time resetting up for each type of shot.

Frank Capra once said, “It is not enough to get an actor to cry on the set, for drama only really happens when the audience cries.”

The film’s score was written by Dimitri Tiomkin, one of Capra’s favorite collaborators. Tiomkin wrote scores for 122 films between 1931-1999, movies like DUEL IN THE SUN (1946), RED RIVER (1948), CHAMPION (1949), HIGH NOON (1952), THE HIGH AND THE MIGHTY (1954), FRIENDLY PERSUASION (1956), and THE GUNS OF NAVARONE (1961). 

Trivia: Capra always wanted Gary Cooper to play John. Cooper took the part because he liked Capra, and he wanted to play opposite Barbara Stanwyck, which he did again later in 1941 in BALL OF FIRE. The part of the female reporter was originally to go to Ann Sheridan, and later to Olivia de Havilland. MEET JOHN DOE was #49 in AFI’s 100 YEARS–100 CHEERS. 

MEET JOHN DOE (1941)

Directed by Frank Capra @ 122 minutes.

The film stars Gary Cooper, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward Arnold, Walter Brennan, Spring Byington, James Gleason, and Gene Lockhart.

Synopsis: A reporter, who is losing her job, writes a fictitious story about a man who threatens to commit suicide on Christmas Eve in protest of the current political and social ills. The fake story becomes a hit, and the paper must both rehire the reporter, and hire a stranger to impersonate John Doe. The newspaper spins and milks the story for several weeks until the Doe Philosophy spawned a real political movement–with tragic results.

Tagline: All America wants to meet the new MR. DEEDS of 1941. 

Rotten Tomatoes rated this film at 88% Critic endorsement, and 81% of the audiences liking it.

Sean Axmaker of PARALLAX VIEW wrote, “This movie is pure Capra, run through with the tension between idealism and corruption.”

John J. Puccio of MOVIE METROPOLIS wrote, “The political and social ramifications are just as topical today as they were 70 years ago.”

Ken Hanke of MOUNTAIN XPRESS wrote, “This is Capra’s most ambitious and darkly disturbing film, and it is possibly more revelant today that when it first appeared in 1941 on the eve of World War II.”

So definitely mark your calendars for this Friday, October 12, 2012, so that you can attend the screening of Capra’s MEET JOHN DOE (1941). The Tacoma Film Club will show the film at 924 Broadway, in the historic Pythian Temple, at street level, across from the Theater on the Square, in the heart of Tacoma’s Theater District. The door opens at 6:15 p.m. Come early and enjoy the film fellowship. Those who wish to may bring snacks and beverages, including wine, to share with others. This is on the table wiith the Donation Box on it. We happily accept donations to defray the costs of renting the space, and providing the film. This is a very spirited theme this month. Make sure to see this movie on the heels of MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON (1939), and THE MASTER (2012). MEET JOHN DOE (1941) run 122 minutes, and it will screen at 7:15 p.m., so it should be over before 9:45 p.m. See you at the movies!

Glenn

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