Saturday, 16 October 2010 INDEX

Doe nuts

Stunned. I just watched Meet John Doe, a Frank Capra film. This included an American convention standing to the strains of God Save the King, the unmistakable sound of The People's Flag is Deepest Red, but most disturbingly of all Gary Cooper saying he was bollocksed.... Apparently all these things meant something different in America at the time (1941). But all three in one film?

Incidentally, how come no-on told me Gary Cooper couldn't act? I've spent quite a lot of my life singing the theme from High Noon (Oh Don't Foresake Me Oh My Darling) out of respect for the man: small but perfectly formed. But in Meet John Doe Barbara Stanwyck had to virtually hold him up. It got so bad Capra had to shoot one whole scene with Cooper's back to us so we couldn't see him!

At two hours, this film is far too long and the script by Richard Connell and Robert Presnell Sr. based on a screenplay by Robert Riskin is at best flabby (or so it appears in 2010). There are a lot of cute (Frank Capra) touches involving dogs and cats, a lovely montage and an almost unbelievably young Walter Brennan (who puts in one of the best performances of the film). A mixed bag. It is remarkable that Capra had to make so many compromises at a time when he must have been at the height of his prestige in Hollywood.

I used to think film was created by an auteur. That might be true now but it certainly wasn't in 1941.
Saturday, 16 October 2010INDEX