Monday, December 31, 2012

Some Like It Hot (1959)

“Will you look at that! Look how she moves! It's like Jell-O on springs. Must have some sort of built-in motor or something. I tell you, it's a whole different sex!” 

            The first I ever heard of Some Like It Hot I was young and I saw it as a high school play. To this day I can remember sitting in the high school auditorium and being a little overwhelmed because I was in a high school seeing older cool kids put on a play. Flash forward several years later to when, as a classic film buff, I finally see the film version of Some Like It Hot. I cannot remember if I had bought the DVD or saw it on TV first but I do know I have had the DVD for years. Some Like It Hot is a flawless comedy. The story and the acting are truly funny from beginning to end.
            Joe (Tony Curtis) and Jerry (Jack Lemmon) are struggling musicians in 1929. They have a job at a speakeasy that is disguised as a funeral parlor. The club is owned by a well known gangster named Spats Colombo (George Raft). Joe and Jerry have no money whatsoever. They keep borrowing money from the girl in the show at the club, they are two months behind their rent, and owe a lot of money to the butcher. One night the club is raided by the police. Joe and Jerry manage to avoid being arrested. Joe comes up with the idea to pawn their jackets to get money to bed on a horse race. Joe, naturally, loses all the money. They go searching for a job at every talent agency they can think of. The only job available for a saxophone and a bass player is for a traveling women’s orchestra headed down to Florida called Sweet Sue and Her Society Syncopators.
              Their luck depending on how you see it changes either for good or for worse. Joe has managed to borrow a car from a secretary he has been seeing in one of the talent agencies. The car is in a garage where Spats just so happens to be as well. Spats and his men have found out that another gangster named Toothpick Charlie was the one who ratted their club out to the police. He rounds up Charlie and some of his men and shoots them (a la the St. Valentine’s Day massacre). Joe and Jerry took cover by the side of the car but are given away when the gas tank is full and the pump is pushed out. They manage to get away unharmed but now they have run out of town if they want to keep their lives. As Joe sees it the only way out is for them to head down to Florida.
            The next scene is Joe and Jerry dressed as women. Jerry is panicking because the clothes are bothering and he keeps tripping on his heels. Joe is calm and just goes with it. Of course they had to change their names along with their appearances- Joe goes by Josephine and Jerry was supposed to go by Geraldine but at the last minute changed his name to Daphne.
            On the train they are introduced to lead singer Sugar Kane Kowalczyk (Marilyn Monroe). Both Jerry and Joe’s jaws drop when they get their first look at Sugar. Joe is quickest to react and gets some alone time with Sugar in the bathroom, not as a man but as Josephine. Sugar tells Joe that she has not had the best luck with men. Her last two boyfriends had been saxophone players and when they play a certain song she falls apart at their feet. She also mentions a few things about men with glasses and yachts.
            When the band arrives in Florida, the hilarity of the film begins. Daphne is hit on literally the moment she/he walks through the door by a man named Osgood Fielding (Joe E. Brown). Joe has stolen the band manager’s clothing and glasses and pretends to be an heir to Shell Oil so he can get some time with Sugar.
            Unfortunately the boys have not gotten far enough away from Spats and his gang. Spats arrives in town for a meeting of gangsters and they are all staying at the same hotel the band is at!
            Every single actor is this film was perfectly cast. I am not fan of either Jack Lemmon or Tony Curtis but they are fabulous as Joe/Josephine and Jerry/Daphne. Lemmon steals the film. He is constantly talking a mile a minute and always worrying until he gets on the train with all the women. His laugh cracks me up it is so silly and giggly. Curtis looked awesome in drag. I love the way he carried himself as if he was a pro (he was way better than I ever could be in heels and a dress) and even had a face of a masculine woman. He  does a spot on impression of Cary Grant that if you were not looking you would swear Grant was on the screen. This was the first time I ever saw Marilyn Monroe in a film. At first I was not thrilled with her at all she drove me up a wall with her voice and she is not the greatest actress. I have since seen several of her films and I have come to like her somewhat. Joe E. Brown steals the film along with Jack Lemmon. Their scenes are so hilarious because his character constantly chases Daphne and then Lemmon almost forgetting he is a boy gets engaged to Osgood! George Raft looked good as Spats. He was older but I think he was more handsome older than when he was younger (I find Raft to be oddly handsome). Since had played several variations of gangsters in the 1930s Raft was great as Spats.
            The last time I watched Some Like It Hot was a few years ago. At the time I was just getting into classic films so I did not really appreciate the story or the acting or the direction. Billy Wilder to me was just the name of the director of the film. I have seen several of Wilder’s films and appreciate his talent so much. It was nice to go back and watch this film with appreciation for Wilder’s storytelling and direction. His humor is dark and dry and quick. Wilder to me was a man ahead of his time with his screenplays and direction. I could not believe how much he was able to get away with in the film as far as the story and the content.
            Some Like It Hot is flawless in every way. Marilyn Monroe could be seen as a flaw but she is not once the film gets going because of all the other characters and actors around her. I think Sugar is a character all women can relate, we are all looking for Mr. Right particularly one who is rich, good looking, and smart. There is a scene for everyone to laugh at with its smart dialogue and sassy characters. Some Like It Hot is a film that should not be overlooked by anyone.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Silent Sundays: The Circus (1928)

“If you strike that girl, I'll quit! And what's more, I want what I'm worth.” 

            Charlie Chaplin is what the word genius was created for. The Circus is only the sixth Charlie Chaplin film I have seen (the others: The Great Dictator, Modern Times, City Lights, A King in New York, and The Gold Rush). I have loved every single one. The man knew how to entertain with wonderful heartwarming stories. The Circus is brilliant from beginning to end.
            Merna (Merna Kennedy) is a circus performer in her father’s show. She missed the hoop in her act because she was afraid. Her father hits her to the ground and tells her she is to have no dinner that night.
            The Tramp is walking around the circus. He comes to a stop near a food stand where a baby has food in its hand. The Tramp takes bites out of whatever food the baby has since he is hungry. Standing next to The Tramp is a pickpocket. The pickpocket takes a wallet out of a man’s pocket. So he will not get caught the pickpocket puts the wallet in The Tramp’s pants. When the man the wallet was stolen from leaves the pickpocket tries to take the wallet out of The Tramp’s pants. A police officer rounds the corner and sees what is going on. The officer thinks the wallet belongs to The Tramp and gives the wallet to him. Unfortunately for The Tramp the man who the wallet really belongs to sees his wallet. Now The Tramp and the pickpocket are both running from the police officer.
            The chase finds its way into the circus tent. The Tramp trips over things and gets into the middle of a performance. The audience roars with laughter as they think The Tramp is part of the act. After the chase is over the audience wants to see more of “the funny man.” The ringmaster finds The Tramp and gives him a tryout for the following morning. That night The Tramp was making his found dinner of a can of something and a piece of bread. He leaves his spot for a minute when Merna comes out of her train car and smells the food. She ravenously eats the piece of bread since she was not allowed to eat her dinner. The Tramp come back and shoos her away but he gives in and gives her part of his bread.
            The following day The Tramp’s audition goes horribly. He does nothing funny he just ruins all the skits and drives the actors and the ringmaster crazy. The Tramp’s luck is not over yet. All the property men for the show have quit and the ringmaster tells the lead property man to find anybody to come and help. The lead property man sees The Tramp and gives him a job. While trying to work The Tramp is chased by donkey into the ring. He messes up a magician’s show. The audience once again thinks The Tramp is part of the show and they love him. The ringmaster decides to keep The Tramp as part of the act only he will not tell The Tramp he is actually a big hit.
            The Donkey once again chases after The Tramp. Unfortunately the place where The Tramp decides to hide is the lion’s cage. Merna happens to walk by but she winds up fainting seeing The Tramp in the cage with a dangerous lion. Merna comes to and gets The Tramp out of the cage before the lion woke up. Merna lets slip to The Tramp that he is the star of the show. Her father happens to overhear what she has said and hits her. The Tramp stops her father by saying if he hits her again he will leave the show and that he also wants what he is worth.
            Before the show The Tramp hears Merna having her fortune told. The fortune teller tells Merna that she will marry a man with dark hair. The Tramp thinks the teller is talking about him and he gets all excited. That night Merna meets Rex the new tightrope walker. The Tramp also overhears this and he is gutted. Since that night The Tramp has been unable to be funny because his heart has been broken. He comes across the tightrope that has been set up low to the ground. He tries it and does a good job. The ringmaster sees him do this and he is told that if he is not funny soon he will be kicked out of the circus. That night Rex is nowhere to be found. The ringmaster tells The Tramp to do the tightrope act. He bribes one of the workers to let him use a brace hooked up to a wire so he will not fall. The brace comes off but fortunately The Tramp is able to get to the other side.
            During his act The Tramp sees Merna is being beat by her father again. He quickly goes over to defend her and in the meantime embarrasses the ringmaster in front of others. The Tramp is fired from the circus. He is sitting in the woods when Merna finds him. She tells The Tramp she has run away she wants to come along with him. The Tramp has something else in mind. He leaves Merna at the little campsite he has set up and finds Rex. He wants Rex to be with Merna.
            Rex and Merna get married. All three performers go back to the circus. When Merna’s father finds her he tries to beat her for running away. Since they are now married Rex steps in. They want to stay with the circus but will only stay if The Tramp can come back. The ringmaster agrees. The Tramp is supposed to ride in another train car instead he watches the caravan ride away to the next town.
            The Circus like all of Charlie Chaplin’s films I have seen is beautiful. I love how Chaplin added so much heart to his comedy. His comedy was funny, cruel, heartwarming, and heartbreaking. Chaplin was a genius at grabbing his audiences’ attention with his characters and stories. His characters and stories are relatable no matter the circumstances. There are so many hysterical scenes in The Circus it is hard to choose just one and the film would no longer be fun for you to see if I gave away any of them. The Circus is a must see it is so enjoyable and absolutely perfect. 

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Dr. Monica (1934)

Pre-Code films are my favorite genre (if it can be called a genre) of classic films. I love how risqué they were for the time. I especially love the women in Pre-Code films. The women in these films could teach a thing or two to women in movies today. Compared to Pre-Code women the women in films today are babies both sexually and confidently. Even some of the plots of the films are ten times more risqué and sexually driven than movies today. I would love to sit some writers and directors down from today and make them watch some Pre-Codes. Women in movies today need balls and they need confidence. They need to watch Norma Shearer in any of her Pre-Codes and take a few tips from her.
            A few Pre-Codes I have seen are melodramas with a capital “M” but they have risqué or taboo plots (maybe “taboo” is not the right word but that is the one coming to my head at the moment). Dr. Monica is a Pre-Code film that is not well known most likely due to the fact that it is more a ridiculous melodrama than anything else. There is no Norma Shearer-type character or actress in Dr. Monica but the plot is just as daring.
            Dr. Monica Braden (Kay Francis) is a successful doctor working in New York City. She has a husband John (Warren William) who is a writer. Monica loves John very much. Unfortunately she has no idea that John is cheating on her with one of her best friends Mary Hathaway. John is set to travel to Europe for a few months. Monica will miss him but not as much as Mary will. The night before he goes away John goes to Mary’s apartment to say goodbye and end their affair.
            Mary is beyond upset about John leaving that she becomes reckless and begins not to feel well. Monica figures out that Mary is going to have a baby. Mary refuses to tell Monica who the father is. She says the father is a married man and has left on a trip. Monica obviously does not realize that the married man is her own husband. Being the good friend that she is Monica helps Mary through everything.
            John was supposed to be away for six months but after being away for only two he comes back. He missed Monica and she is more than happy to have him home again. Monica’s happiness with John and her friendship with Mary hit a wall on the night she helps Mary deliver her baby. Monica told Mary to call the father and have him come be with her. At first Mary refuses but in desperation she tries to call John and he is not at home. Monica walked into the room at that moment and hears everything. She is extremely upset to the point where she almost walks out and tells the nurse to get another doctor. Monica helps Mary deliver the baby and once she sees the baby is alright Monica leaves the house in a hurry.
            Not long after finding out about Mary and John, Monica is offered a six week job in Vienna. She plans on staying permanently and write to John that she knows everything. Before she is to go, Mary takes John on vacation for two weeks as a way to say goodbye to him and to be happy the way they were when they were first married one more time.
            After the vacation Monica checks on Mary and her baby. Mary feels so much guilt over how upset Monica is over the affair and the baby. Mary is an aviatrix. She leaves word that she is going back home to Ohio to see her family. She also leaves a note to Monica that the baby is hers to keep that she is going away. When Mary arrives at the airport she tells one of the crew that she is flying to Paris. The crew replies that her plane will not make.
            On the day Monica was supposed to leave she hears about Mary and that the baby was left behind. Monica takes the baby home. Before she has a chance to tell John about adopting the baby she receives a call that Mary flew her plane out over the ocean and has not been heard from. When she shows John the baby he is very happy. He asks who the parents are and Monica replies she did not want to know so the baby could really be their own. Both parents are beaming as John holds the baby. Monica with a smile on her face says to John that the baby she has adopted is his.
            Now that meaning when Monica says to John that the baby is his is very loaded. She means obviously that the baby is his real daughter and also means that this baby he does not know is his daughter that Monica has just adopted is now his own baby. I thought that was brilliant because she does not tell him the baby is actually his own flesh and blood but in a way she is telling him so. All I could think was good lord I hope that John never realizes the baby looks like him as she gets older and the truth gets out and the kid has a screwed up life!
            The acting was alright. Kay Francis I have seen in a few films and she has yet to leave an impression on me. She seemed very phony to me in the film and I cannot figure out if it was Francis’s acting or if it was the character. I actually wish Warren William was in the film more. I am so used to seeing him a bad guy that it was a very nice change seeing him play a good guy… could John be considered a good guy? I would say he is. He was the one being kept in the dark and for crying out loud I am sure he did not mean to knock a girl up intentionally and leave her! Jean Muir as Mary was not good. She was a bit over the top for me.
            Dr. Monica, as I mentioned, is a Pre-Code melodrama. Being a Pre-Code I had to see it and I am satisfied that I did. I had been interested in seeing this film for some time. I also wanted to see another Kay Francis film. Maybe one day I will see a film of hers and something will click with her. Dr. Monica is a hard film to find. Kay Francis was one of the stars featured in TCM’s Summer Under the Stars program and that is how I was able to view the film (took me long enough to finally sit down to watch it!). If TCM ever airs Dr. Monica again give it a try. 

Friday, December 28, 2012

This Is 40 (2012)

I always hate when I set my expectations for a movie and my expectations wind up getting crushed. I adore Leslie Mann and Paul Rudd. I loved them both to no end in Knocked Up so I was very excited to see them and their characters get their own movie in This is 40. I am fifteen years away from being forty (god that sounds awful!) and I hope and pray during these fifteen years I will have my shit together unlike Debbie and Pete. I found This is 40 to be funny at some parts and most of the time I could not believe how outrageously dysfunctional and annoying they were.
            The movie takes place eight years after Knocked Up (**it’s been eight years already?! It feels like I just saw that in theaters yesterday. I was seventeen!!**). Pete is still working in the music business but now he has his own record company that is not doing very well. Debbie has her own shop that is losing money because of one of the employees stealing money. They are having issues with their oldest daughter Sadie who is now fourteen and going through some changes and hates everyone. Debbie and Pete are dealing with their own paternal issues which did not need to be in the movie at all.
            In the beginning all is somewhat well and then towards the middle to the end things get too heavy. The movie goes from being a comedy in the first ninety minutes to an annoying drama until the end. There are some hysterical moments after the first ninety minutes but they are infrequent.
            What I did not like at all is how I liked the characters of Debbie and Pete at the beginning and by the end I could not stand them. I know that sometimes people just do not grow up and are immature. I know that relationships can be dysfunctional. When the immaturity and the dysfunction mix my god I cannot think of anything more annoying. I felt terrible for their kids. I would die if Debbie and Pete were my parents. I think by now you have guessed my age. I am my age and still living at home (damn stupid economy and my degree). If my parents acted like Debbie and Pete I would have been out of the house long ago. Judd Apatow wrote and directed the movie based off of his life with Leslie Mann and their daughters (who play the daughters in this movie). Seriously if this is what their home life is like one, how are they still together and two, I hope someone helps their daughters out.
            Leslie Mann and Paul Rudd were awesome I have no complaints about their acting. I hope Mann and Rudd make another movie together I like their chemistry. The bit characters were annoying and unnecessary. There is a story line about Pete’s dad that was annoying to no end and did not need to be shown. Megan Fox was actually not that bad her character was part of the unnecessaries but she was good. Melissa McCarthy is in two scenes and she steals the whole thing. The woman is so damn funny that I was crying laughing with her scenes.
            I unfortunately had some expectations for This is 40 and they were shit on. The movie is an hour way too long that by the end it felt like Apatow was rushing to get to a happy ending that was not very happy to watch. I was expecting something better from Apatow but it seems that his movies are getting worse and worse. This is 40 is worth seeing once because as I said there are some really hysterical moments in it and Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann are great together. One viewing is plenty enough.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Innocents (1961)

“What shall I say when his feet enter softly? Leaving the marks of his grave on my floor. Enter my lord. Come from your prison. Come from your grave, for the moon is a risen. Welcome, my lord.”

            Sometimes I like to think if I was a film teacher what films would I show. First I think I would like to work in a college rather than a high school because in college you can get away with showing some risqué films like Pre-Code ones or crazy awesome action films like Tarantino ones. My list of films I would like to show a class is long so then I think I could teach a class like Films to 1940 and Films after 1940 (my one brother has taken classes like these and he loves them). I would absolutely show some suspense/thriller films such as anything by Hitchcock, Les Diabolique, The Dark Mirror, and several others. I recently viewed the suspense film The Innocents and quickly added it to my pretend list. The Innocents is an almost perfect film from beginning to end with an amazing story and incredible cinematography.
            The story takes place in the Victorian Era. A young woman named Miss Giddens (Deborah Kerr) is hired as a governess to two young children named Flora and Miles. She is hired by the children’s uncle (Michael Redgrave). The uncle does not care too much for children. He has them living out on his family’s country estate while he lives and works in London. He tells Miss Giddens that anything concerning the children is her problem not his.
            Miss Giddens travels out to the country. She is immediately taken with the home before her carriage pulls through the gate. She gets out of the carriage to walk the grounds before she enters the house. While out near the pond Miss Giddens hears someone calling for Flora but no one is around her. Flora, who has been out playing, sees Miss Giddens and goes over to her. Both governess and child like each other right away. Miss Giddens loves being in the big gorgeous house with Flora.
            Miles is away at school and will not be coming home for some time but Flora keeps saying that her brother will be home soon. The next day a letter comes from Miles’s school saying he is being expelled and will arrive home shortly. Miss Giddens finds Miles charming and sweet and cannot understand why he has been sent home.
            Soon after Miles arrives home odd things begin to happen. Windows fly open from a wild breeze late at night. The children act strangely and say odd things. While playing hide and go seek late one night Miss Giddens sees an apparition of a man outside after just having seen his photograph in a cracked frame in the attic. After this incident the children are not themselves and neither is Miss Giddens. She thinks she sees the man who had been Miles’s tutor and the former governess Miss Jessel, both whom had passed away the previous year.
            Miss Giddens believes that if she can get the children to tell the truth of what had happened in the house to the tutor and the Miss Jessel that she and the children can be free of these evil spirits.
            Obviously this has the type of story where not knowing too much detail before you see it is a good thing. With suspense films giving away detail is a sin and unfair to those who have yet to view them.
            I am not going to go on about the acting as I usually do. Deborah Kerr is an actress I do not mind seeing in a film. In this one she was not that great. I thought she was over the top at some points and she got on my nerves. Michael Redgrave played the uncle. He was only in the film for ten minutes tops. If the acting had been better this film I would have given it a ten out of ten.
            Now the direction and the cinematography are absolutely worth talking about. The direction by Jack Clayton and the cinematography by Freddie Francis are amazing. They enhance each other if that makes any sense. Clayton got some great shots that were greatly enhanced by light and shadow. All the scenes in the house are suspenseful because of the light and shadows. These are the reasons I would show this film to a class it is one of the best examples of near perfection directing and lighting.
            The Innocents is one of the reasons why I love classic films. If someone today could just make a good suspense film without cursing, without having half naked people running, and a story that could hold my attention I would like “suspense” movies from today a lot more. To me there is no such thing as suspense movies today there is usually too much violence and cursing when there does not need to be and the acting is usually terrible (good lord I sound like an eighty year old!). I would love to see a movie in the style of The Innocents made today with a great story, directing, and cinematography. But unfortunately this is our modern age where the studios just want to turn out a hit and do not give a crap about quality I thank God that high quality films like The Innocents exist. And that is why I would show The Innocents to a film class if my dreams were to come true I can could ever teach one. 
This scene, by the way, scared the ever living crap out of me!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Silent Sundays: Beau Geste (1926)

Beau Geste is a silent film I came across while looking for the 1939 version with Gary Cooper. I hit a bonus when I found out William Powell and Ronald Coleman were in it. Unfortunately neither Powell nor Coleman could save Beau Geste from being dull and boring.
            The brothers Geste- Beau, Digby, and John- live with their cousin Isobel and their aunt Lady Patricia. They have been close since they were children. The brothers have been raised by their aunt since their parents died. Years later when the children are grown men Lady Patricia falls on hard times and she forced to sell a valuable diamond the family has been in possession of for years. Lady Patricia finds the diamond is missing. Beau (Coleman) leaves a letter to his brothers that he is the one who stole the diamond. He has left to join the French Foreign Legion out in the desert. Digby and John eventually follow their older brother to the desert.
            At camp Beau tells his brothers that he has the diamond in his pocket. They are overheard by a vagrant soldier named Boldini (Powell). That night Boldini tries to steal the diamond from Beau’s pocket but he is stopped by Digby. The other soldiers are awoken. They plan on doing something to Boldini for stealing from a fellow soldier. The heads of the Legion hear the noise and walk in on the fighting. Boldini tells the ranking officers that he believes the Geste brothers are jewel thieves. One of the officers splits the brothers apart. He sends Beau and John to Fort Zinderneuf in the middle of the desert.
            Conditions at Fort Zinderneuf are terrible. It is unbearably hot. To make matters worse the men are treated like dirt by a Lieutenant Lejaune. Some of the men plot to kill Lejaune. Beau and John refuse to join. Beau tells Boldini that he and his brother pledged an oath to the French flag and they will stand by it. Boldini tells the brothers that Lejaune knows about the revolt. He has already sent out for new troops because he plans to kill all the soldiers and leave no witnesses. He also plans to steal the diamond.
            Lejaune has Beau come to his office. He tells Beau to give him the diamond for safe keeping but Beau refuses. The two men start to fight but luckily John is the guard and holds up Lejaune. That night the lieutenant has his men take the guns out of the barracks as the soldiers are sleeping. Before the plan can be carried out the Arabs begin to attack.
            All the men in the fort are dead from the attack. Beau is seriously wounded. Lejaune and John are the only ones left alive. Lejaune threatens to have John killed for mutiny. John shoots Lejaune dead. Beau dies in John’s arm. Digby comes into the fort as part of the reinforcement troops. He gives his older brother a Viking funeral in his bead in the fort just the way Beau wanted. He sees John in the desert and runs after him.
            John and Digby wonder the desert trying desperately to find the next town so they can get home. They meet with two other soldiers who have also deserted. The two men have a camel that can only hold three men. Digby sacrifices his life to save John since he has Isobel waiting for him at home.
            John is the only Geste brother to make it home alive. He gives his aunt a letter Beau had written to her. Beau wrote that he was the one who stole the diamond but it was the fake one the one that was made out of glass.
            I was so bored with this film. It started off slow which just totally killed the rest of the film.
            I cannot even really comment on the acting because after its slow start I kind of stopped paying attention. I will say it was very interesting to see Ronald Coleman and William Powell in a silent film. I am so used to seeing Powell in his talking films this was the first time I have ever seen one of his silents. Boldini was a very slimy character, very different to Powell’s slick charming gentlemen he would become known for.
            This silent version of Beau Geste is worth seeing at least one even though I found it boring.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Meet John Doe (1941)

“Everything in that speech is what a certain man believed in. He was my father. When he talked people listened. They will listen to you too.”

            Frank Capra made some of the greatest American films of all time. Like several directors in early Hollywood he was an immigrant (from Italy). To me it seems the immigrants can be the most patriotic and most interested in politics. In Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and Meet John Doe, Capra made his characters good honest Americans caught up in a nasty cheating self absorbed American government. The men in charge want to use these good honest people for their own gain and go against all the good that can be found throughout the country.
            Ann Mitchell (Barbara Stanwyck) is laid off from her job. Her boss Mr. Connell says her column is no longer relevant for the paper. She writes a letter to the paper about how unfair it is that good men and women who have worked hard are getting laid off and signs it John Doe. As John Doe she says the writer will kill himself on Christmas Day because of his principles. The whole town is talking about this letter and the man. Ann goes back to Connell telling him it was she who wrote the letter. Reporter and editor come up with a plan to find a real John Doe to be the face of the recurring article while Ann writes the pieces. Outside the office are dozens of men looking to be John Doe. The man they choose is John Willoughby (Gary Cooper) who used to be a baseball player until he hurt his arm.
            Connell has his two of his men take John to get some new clothes and gives John fifty dollars. John’s friend The Colonel does not like what is going on. He can see that all this mess will change John he will be corrupted by all the people around him. John does not listen to The Colonel he is so happy to be off the streets and to be able to have a place to sleep and order all the food he wants.
            The column is a sensation all over the country. Ann is called down to the home of the owner of the newspaper D.B. Norton (Edward Arnold). Norton wants Ann through his radio station to write a speech for John to say over the air. He also tells her to keep on writing this column and she will make money to the point where she will be comfortable for the rest of her life. Ann struggles to write the speech. For inspiration her mother shows Ann her father’s diary. He was a man that when he spoke everyone listened to him. Before the broadcast John and The Colonel are bribed by a rival newspaper. They will give John five thousand dollars to disappear. John almost takes the money until he sees Ann all excited that he will be speaking the words of her father. The rival paper is furious the owner jumps up and yells out during the broadcast that John is a fake. The speech and the broadcast are a sensation.
            After the speech the pressure of being a fake and people finding out gets too much for John and he and The Colonel run away together. They wind up in a small town and are immediately recognized. After they are found Norton devises a plan to start a John Doe platform for the presidential race and want John to tell the country that Norton will be running to president. Norton does not like the John Does of America he just wants to gain political office.
            The cast was exceptional. No actor in American cinema defines America like Gary Cooper. He was handsome yet looked like he could be your best friend that you could play baseball with and have a drink. Barbara Stanwyck I think is one of the ultimate American actresses. She was what every woman wanted to be- tough, independent, and smart yet loving and kind. Stanwyck came from almost nothing as she was growing up and she became this popular successful actress with a long career that she had control over. I would say that is a great American success story. I love Cooper and Stanwyck together because their screen personas and attitudes were so different. She was tough he was shy, they balanced each other perfectly. Edward Arnold’s character was so awful. He was so nasty and cruel that you hated him. Whenever someone can pull off playing such an evil character to point where they are hated you know the actor did his job. Spring Byington played Ann’s mother. I love seeing her in films no matter how long she is in them. Walter Brennan I think played one of the best characters of the film. He was the voice of reason and you believed him.
            Frank Capra was such a wonderful director. There were so many scenes that were filmed brilliantly. I like Capra was always able to capture every feeling and emotion of the characters. You could feel their fear, their love, their sadness, their betrayal all through the camera.
            Despite being a little too long, having too many drawn out speeches, and dragging in some moments Meet John Doe is a fantastic film. This is American cinema and beliefs at its best. I love the fact that this great American film was made by an Italian immigrant. Sometimes it takes an outsider to see value in something. If I were a history teacher Meet John Doe would be a film I would want to show to my class so they can see and believe that there is still good in America and its citizens