Posted by farid from customer-148-233-71-47.uninet.net.mx (126.96.36.199) on Sunday, June 15, 2003 at 4:44PM :
You should take a look at some old time movies from around the Depression and back. I saw one of them last night, Frank Capra's, "Meet John Doe". It stars an achingly handsome and young Gary Cooper plus Barbara Stanwyck, Walter Brennan (that guy must have been born around 50 years of age) and a host of excellent players. It's as full of "Capra Corn" as his other films, but no matter how sentimental, there is usually an edge to them...something about the common man, the decent guy, the average fella who just wants a fair shake in life and never means no harm to his neighbor...a John Doe beset and hornswaggled by the rich and power hungry.
The film is set during the Great Depression, the one in the 30's I mean...and tells the story of a power mad rich fellow who thinks there's too much "talk" going around in America, that people need and want a strong hand...someone to tell them what's right and wrong. The guy even has his own private motorcycle guard...sort of fledgling Storm Troopers. The film begins with him buying out a decent newspaper to turn into a propaganda organ for himself with which to express the nation's "need" of him to save it. He plans to run for president as soon as the time is ripe. The old timer staff is being fired off including a resourceful female reporter, our heroine, who has a mother and two sisters to support. Lots of other people, all of them sympathetic and most of them too old to get other jobs, are also being let go. You have to keep in mind this was before Roosevelt and unemployment benefits or health care of any kind...when you got your last paycheck, that was it...no "mollycoddling" of the masses who'd worked their asses off to make the few so damn rich.
Before all of this begins there is a great openning shot of the sign outside the building of the old newspaper. Under the name of the paper, which I can't remember, are the words...carved in stone (raised letters no less), "A Free People Demand A Free Press"...or something like. Before you can quite read it all a guy steps up with a jackhammer and starts chiseling the words away...till you can just see the impression they leave behind...as you read the last words. Next scene shows some hand installing the new sign over where the old one was...it reads, "A Modern Newspaper For Modern Times".
In desperation to keep her job Barbara tries everything to convince the henchman sent by the big boss to set up the new paper, but nothing works. As she stomps out he reminds her she owes one more
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