Letter from Frank Capra to Viewer

My dear Mr. Gluck:

April 8, 1941

I am extremely grateful to you for writing me that interesting letter about your reactions to "MEET JOHN DOE."

The end of the picture is my own--that is, I'm responsible for it. You evidently missed the point I was trying to make, and it's not your fault, it's mine.

Briefly, my point was this. The Golden Rule is the only law or commandment that can make for happiness. Up to the convention the John Does were following it and their lives were happier. By contrast I wanted to show them what happened when they listened and followed human leadership, the greedy men after power whom people are wont to listen to. Also I wanted to show them an example of what was happening in the world when people listened and believed in this type. They were turned into a howling mob, their peace and happiness shot to pieces. And then I wanted to hold out hope for them at the end, if they understood and were willing to follow spiritual leadership.

Your point is that the John Does wouldn't have turned on John Doe. You say you wouldn't do it, and neither would any other John Does. I say the world today is a pretty good example that they do do it.

People have urged me to let John Doe jump off the roof. My argument against that is that his blood would be on the souls of the John Does.

But evidently my point is missed, or at least I missed it, and perhaps I was wrong to start with. Anyway, I have put a new ending on the picture in which some John Does who had faith in the man are the ones who keep him from jumping. I think it will suit you better, although perhaps you still won't like it.

The picture has caused a great deal of healthy discussion. Please know that I am grateful for your excellent comments.

Sincerely yours,
Frank Capra

From Meet John Doe correspondence files, Frank Capra Collection, Wesleyan University Cinema Archives.