So, Frank Capra made another Christmas film based around the idea of suicide! Schmaltzy and over sentimental? Not a bit of it.
And today it’s…
23rd December, Day 54
Meet John Doe (Frank Capra, 1941)
Barbara Stanwyck is Ann Mitchell, a newspaper columnist who in her last column publishes a fake letter from a “John Doe”, a fictional homeless man. John Doe has threatened to commit suicide on Christmas Eve, and her readers respond in great numbers to it. With the newspaper’s competitors doubting the validity of the article, Mitchell’s editor hires her back, and together they pay ex baseball player John Willoughby (Gary Coooper) to pretend to be John Doe. They all start to write more John Doe letters, expanding on his ideas about the way people ignore the homeless, especially at Christmas.
The story is so inspiring that people in local time start The John Doe Club, to try and make society better. Willoughby starts to feel guilty, especially when another homeless man recognises and confronts him. Will Willoughby be able to live up to the ideals of John Doe? Will the paper’s rivals find out the truth? Will Mitchell and Willoughby fall in love?
There’s an idea that Christmas films are all sentimental clap trap, and that the “alternative” Christmas film (The Night Before, Office Christmas Party) is a new idea. In fact, Christmas films only really became mostly family orientated quite recently. There was a change in sensibility (or maybe film production) that made Christmas films less grown up. Compare the original and remake of Miracle on 34th Street. Both have a lawyer trying to prove a man is Santa Claus, but it is the original that sticks to an official reading of the law, whereas the remake makes it a sentimental old judge persuaded by a child’s argument.
This is an issues based film that uses Christmas to amplify the emotions and actions of the characters involved. It has an uplifting message but it is not one of soppy sentimentality. Gary Cooper is brilliant an everyman hero – a staple of Capra’s films. While It’s A Wonderful Life has gone on to become a Christmas staple, this has been slightly forgotten. I recommend everyone gives it a watch.
In fact… because of a lapse in copyright it is now in the public domain, so for the first time I can include a film – here it is!
Overall, I give this
Tomorrow is Christmas Eve! Already! These last 54 days have really flown past haven’t they. My penultimate film is the French language A CHRISTMAS TALE! Not to be confused with day 31’s Finish Santa hunting Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale
Until next time, stay gold, Ponyboy, stay gold. See you soonish.
PS Here’s my list so far
31st October, Day 1: The Nightmare Before Christmas
1st November, Day 2: Rocky IV
2nd November, Day 3: Edward Scissorhands
3rd November, Day 4: Trading Places
4th November, Day 5: Batman Returns
5th November, Day 6: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
6th November, Day 7: Gremlins
7th November, Day 8: Eyes Wide Shut
8th November, Day 9: Love Actually
9th November, Day 10: Lethal Weapon
10th November, Day 11: Die Hard / Die Hard 2
11th November, Day 12: About A Boy
12th November, Day 13: Trapped In Paradise
13th November, Day 14: Reindeer Games
14th November, Day 15: Joyeux Noel
15th November, Day 16: Nativity / Nativity 2 / Nativity 3: Dude, Where’s My Donkey?
16th November, Day 17: Jack Frost
17th November, Day 18: Jack Frost
18th November, Day 19: Arthur Christmas
19th November, Day 20: The Santa Clause / The Santa Clause 2 / The Santa Clause 3
20th November, Day 21: Miracle On 34th Street
21st November, Day 22: Miracle On 34th Street
22nd November, Day 23: Scrooged
23rd November, Day 24: Scrooge
24th November, Day 25: The Muppets Christmas Carol
25th November, Day 26: Elf
26th November, Day 27: Home Alone / Home Alone 2
27th November, Day 28: The Grinch
28th November, Day 29: Black Christmas
29th November, Day 30: Jingle All The Way
30th November, Day 31: Rare Exports
1st December, Day 32: Polar Express
2nd December, Day 33: A Christmas Story
3rd December, Day 34: Bad Santa
4th December, Day 35: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
5th December, Day 36: Santa Claus: The Movie
6th December, Day 37: Krampus
7th December, Day 38: Christmas With The Kranks
8th December, Day 39: White Christmas
9th December, Day 40: A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas
10th December, Day 41: Christmas With The Coopers
11th December, Day 42: Fred Claus
12th December, Day 43: Santa’s Little Helper
13th December, Day 44: Santa With Muscles
14th December, Day 45: Santa’s Slay
15th December, Day 46: Four Christmases
16th December, Day 47: A Christmas Horror Story
17th December, Day 48: The Family Man
18th December, Day 49: Silent Night, Deadly Night!
19th December, Day 50: Mixed Nuts
20th December, Day 51: We’re No Angels
21st December, Day 52: Holiday Inn
22nd December, Day 53: Babes In Toyland
23rd December, Day 54: Meet John Doe