Monday, October 10, 2016

TODAY'S NUGGET: Meet John Doe (1941) - The Push & Pull of an Angel and the Devil

[Quick Summary: A hobo is paid to pretend to be John Doe, a disgruntled citizen, and stirs up a media frenzy that he becomes more than he can handle.]

This script must've been a bear to craft.

How do you show internal moral conflict? Externalize it.

Here, the protagonist (John Doe) has both an angel (Colonel) and the devil (Ann).

Ann is a newspaper columnist who makes up a fictional citizen, John Doe, who everyone wants to meet. She hires a John, a hobo (and former minor league player).

You can see why John is torn between Ann vs. the Colonel:

A) John falls for Ann, and the newspaper offers surgery to repair his throwing arm:

ex.  "CONNELL: ...Now I want you to sign this agreement. It gives us an exclusive story under your name day by day from now until Christmas. On December twenty-sixth, you get one railroad ticket out of town, and the Bulletin agrees to pay to have your arm fixed. That's what you want, isn't it?

JOHN: Yeah, but it's got ot be by bone-setter Brown.

CONNELL: Okay, bone-setter Brown goes."

B) The Colonel is looking out for John's best interests:

ex. "JOHN: (as he goes) Hey, stop worrying, Colonel. Fifty bucks ain't going to ruin me.

COLONEL: I seen plenty of fellers start out with fifty bucks and wind up with a bank account!

BEANY: (can't stand it any more) Hey, whatsa matter with a bank account, anyway?

COLONEL: (ignoring him) And let me tell you, Long John. When you become a guy with a bank account, they got you. Yessir, they got you!

BEANY: Who's got him?

COLONEL: The heelots!"

WHAT I'VE LEARNED: I liked how the push and pull between Ann vs. the Colonel externalizes the battle inside John Doe.

Meet John Doe (1941)
by Robert Riskin
Based on the story by Richard Connell and Robert Presnell

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