MEET JOHN DOE
Written by Robert Riskin
based on a story by Richard Connell and Robert Presnell
Ext. Bulletin Office - Sidewalk.
Close-up: Of a time-worn plaque against
the side of a building. It reads:
"A free press for a free people."
While we read this, a pair of hands
come in holding pneumatic chisel which
immediately attacks the sign. As the
lettering is being obliterated,
Dissolve to: Close-up: A new plaque
on which the lettering has been changed
THE NEW BULLETIN
"A streamlined newspaper for a streamlined
Cut to: Int. Bulletin outer office.
Full shot: Of a mid-western newspaper
Med. shot: At a door at which a sign-painter
works. He is painting HENRY CONNELL's
name on the door. It opens and a flip
office boy emerges. The painter has
to wait until the door closes in order
to resume his work.
Full shot: Of the outer office. The
activity of the office seems to suddenly
cease, as all eyes are centered on the
Med. shot—panning: With the office boy—who
has a small sheet of paper in his hand.
He walks jauntily to a desk, refers
to his paper, points his finger to a
woman, emits a short whistle through
his teeth, runs a finger across his
throat and jerks his thumb toward managing
editor's office. The woman stares starkly
at him while her immediate neighbors
look on with sympathy. The office boy
now goes through the same procedure
with several other people. All watch
him, terror written in their eyes.
Med. shot: Toward CONNELL's office door
where painter works. It opens and three
people emerge. Two men and a girl. The
girl is young and pretty. All three
look dourful. The painter again has
to wait for the door to shut before
resuming his work. The two men exit.
The girl suddenly stops.
Close shot: Of the girl. Her name is
ANN MITCHELL. She stands, thinking,
and then suddenly, impulsively, wheels
around. Camera pans with her as she
returns to CONNELL's office door, flings
it open and disappears. The painter
remains poised with his brush, waiting
for the door to swing back. There is
a slight flash of resentment in his
Int. CONNELL's office. Full shot: CONNELL
is behind his desk on which is a tray
of sandwiches and a glass of milk, half
gone. Near him sits POP DWYER, another
veteran newspaperman. ANN crosses to
Yeh, D. B. Oh, just cleaning out the
? 580 ?
Look, Mr. Connell . . . I just can't
afford to be without work right now,
not even for a day. I've got a mother
and two kid sisters to . . .
Secretary enters. (Her name is Mattie.)
More good luck telegrams.
Well, you know how it is, I, I've just
got to keep working. See?
Sorry, sister. I was sent down here
to clean house. I told yuh I can't use
your column any more. It's lavender
and old lace!
(flicks dictograph button)
Send those other people in.
I'll tell you what I'll do. I get thirty
dollars a week. I'll take twenty-five,
twenty if necessary. I'll do anything
It isn't the money. We're after circulation.
What we need is fireworks. People who
can hit with sledge hammers—start arguments.
Oh, I can do that. I know this town
inside out. Oh, give me a chance, please.
She can get no further, for several
people enter. They are cowed and frightened.
ANN hesitates a moment, then, there
being nothing for her to do, she starts
to exit. She is stopped by CONNELL's
All right, come in, come in! Come in!
Cashier's got your check.
(back to others)
Who are these people? Gibbs, Frowley,
(to Ann at door)
Hey, you, sister!
? 581 ?
Don't forget to get out your last column
before you pick up your check!
ANN's eyes flash angrily as she exits.
Int. Outer Office. Med. shot: ANN storms
out. The painter again has to wait for
the door to swing back to him.
Int. ANN's office. Full shot: ANN enters
her office and paces around, furious.
A man in alpaca sleeve-bands enters.
His name is JOE.
You're a couple o' sticks shy in
your column, Ann.
(ignores him, muttering . . .)
A big, rich slob like D. B. Norton buys
a paper—and forty heads are chopped
Did you get it, too?
Yeah. You, too? Oh, Joe . . . oh, I'm
sorry darling . . . why don't we tear
the building down!
Before you do, Ann, perhaps you'd better
finish this column.
Yeah. Lavender and old lace!
Suddenly she stops pacing. Her eyes
widen as a fiendish idea strikes her.
She flops down in front of her typewriter.
Wants fireworks, huh? Okay!
She begins to pound furiously, her jaw
Close-up: Of ANN. Eyes flashing as she
Close-up: Of JOE, watching her. The
wild look in her eye and the unnatural
speed of her typing causes him to stare
dumbly at her.
Med. shot: ANN bangs away madly. Finally
she finishes. She whips the sheet out
of the typewriter, hands it to JOE.
As JOE takes it, ANN begins to empty
the drawers of her desk.
Close-up: Of JOE reading what ANN has
? 582 ?
"Below is a letter which reached my
desk this morning. It's a commentary
on what we laughingly call the civilized
world. 'Dear Miss Mitchell: Four years
ago I was fired out of my job. Since
then I haven't been able to get another
one. At first I was sore at the state
administration because it's on account
of the slimy politics here we have all
this unemployment. But in looking around,
it seems the whole world's going to
pot, so in protest I'm going to commit
suicide by jumping off the City Hall
roof!' Signed, A disgusted American
citizen, John Doe.'"
JOE pauses to absorb this.
"Editor's note . . . If you ask this
column, the wrong people are jumping
JOE glances up toward ANN, in mild protest.
Hey, Ann, this is the old fakeroo, isn't
Full shot: ANN has just about accumulated
all her things. JOE stares at her, knowing
it's a fake.
Never mind that, Joe. Go ahead.
JOE shrugs, shakes his head, and exits.
ANN stuffs her things under her arm
and also goes.
Int. Outer office: Med. shot: Voices
ad lib—"Awfully sorry you're not going."
ANN comes out. Suddenly, she stops,
gets another idea, picks up a book from
a desk, and reaches back to heave it.
Med. shot: At CONNELL's office door.
The sign-painter has just finished CONNELL's
name, and as he leans back, pleased,
wiping his brushes, the book flies in.
The painter lifts his head slowly, his
wrath too great to find utterance.
Dissolve to: Int. GOVERNOR JACKSON's
office: Close-up: Of two of GOVERNOR'S
" . . . and it's because of the slimy
politics that we have all this unemployment
There it is! That's D. B. Norton's opening
attack on the Governor!
Why Jim, it's just a letter sent in
to a column.
No, no. I can smell it. That's Norton!
While he speaks, the GOVERNOR has entered.
? 583 ?
Good morning, gentlemen. You're rather
'Morning. 'Morning, Governor.
You're here rather early.
(pushes paper over to him)