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A Frank Capra film. A reporter (Barbara Stanwyck) fabricates a letter from a John Doe who says he will kill himself on Christmas to protest the state of the country.
When the story draws sympathy from the readership, she hires a former baseball player hobo (Gary Cooper) to portray this fictional person in public, and the "John Doe" movement begins.
Contains examples of:
- Adult Child: The Colonel, when he plays his Piccolo.
- Becoming the Mask
- Cloudcuckoolander: John and the Colonel, mostly the Colonel.
- Chronic Hero Syndrome: Near the end John actually tries to kill himself, in order to revive the Doe movment.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Lots of them, unfortunately.
- Despair Event Horizon
- Da Editor: Henry Connell.
- The Ditz: John
- The Everyman: The John Does.
- Hobos: John and the Colonel, among others.
- Heroic BSOD: John and Ann both have one, both equally heartbreaking to watch.
- Hot Scoop: Ann.
- It Got Worse: For John, after the halfway point in the film.
- Messianic Archetype
- Pygmalion Plot: Ann goes right out and says she has fallen in love with "John Doe".
- Running Gag: John and the Colonel's music.
- Those Two Guys: Long John and the Colonel.
- Screwball Comedy
- Throwing Out the Script: A Capra staple trope.
- Time Compression Montage
- You Are Not Alone