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Meet John Doe  /  The Most Dangerous Game

Meet John Doe
March 9, 2019 - 7:30 pm
In-person: 
Victoria Riskin, author of "Fay Wray and Robert Riskin: A Hollywood Memoir."


Meet John Doe  (1941)

A journalist (Barbara Stanwyck) pens a letter to the editor, pretending to be a homeless “John Doe” about to commit suicide. It causes a sensation, leading the paper to hire a tramp (Gary Cooper) to play John Doe, and ultimately leading to a proto-fascist political movement. It is, however, only a matter of time before the hoax is exposed. This cautionary tale on the dangers of populism may have been written in the light of Hitler and other fascist dictatorships, but also tells us much about today’s Trumpian politics. Capra’s populism shows a darker side, but it is also true that capital’s control of the press gets a pass as the evil is personalized in Edward Arnold’s impersonation of D.B. Norton. This is the film that broke screenwriter Robert Riskin’s relationship with Capra, because Riskin believed Capra was taking all the credit for their incredible successful collaboration on eight films, which netted 29 Oscar nominations for the pair.

35mm, b/w, 122 min. Director: Frank Capra. Screenwriter: Robert Riskin, Richard Connell, Robert Presnell, Jr. Cast: Gary Cooper, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward Arnold, Walter Brennan, Spring Byington.


The Most Dangerous Game  (1932)

Shot at night on the same sets as King Kong and also starring Robert Armstrong and Fay Wray, The Most Dangerous Game concerns a big game hunter who gets the ultimate kick from hunting humans. Richard Connell’s short story from 1923 has been adapted numerous times and acted as fodder for TV shows, like Fantasy Island and Get Smart, since this perverse potboiler became a popular success. As a pre-Code drama, the film features both Wray and Joel McCrea in various states of undress, offering eye candy for all but also causing it to be banned, once the Legion of Decency enforced the Production Code on Hollywood.

35mm, b/w, 62 min. Director: Irving Pichel, Ernest B. Schoedsack. Screenwriter: James Ashmore Creelman. Cast: Joel McCrea, Fay Wray, Robert Armstrong, Leslie Banks.