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  • Yeah, D.B.? Cleaning out deadwood.

  • Okay.

  • Mr. Connell I can't afford to be without work right now.

  • Not even for a day.

  • I've got a mother and two kid sisters.

  • More 'good luck' telegrams.

  • You know how it is.

  • I've got to keep on working, see?

  • Sorry, sister. I was sent down here to clean house.

  • I told you I can't use your column anymore.

  • It's lavender and old lace.

  • Send those other people in.

  • I'll tell you what I'll do.

  • I get 30 dollars a week. I'll take 25, 20 if necessary.

  • - I'll do anything you say. - It isn't the money.

  • We're after circulation, fireworks. People that hit with sledgehammers,

  • start arguments.

  • I can do that. I know this town inside out.

  • - Give me a chance, please. - Alright, come in.

  • Cashier's got your check.

  • Who are these people?

  • Gibbs, Crawley, Cunningham, Giles.

  • Hey you, sister!

  • Don't forget your last column before you pick up your check.

  • You're a couple of sticks shy on your column, ma'am.

  • Big rich slob like D.B. Norton buys a paper and chops 40 heads off.

  • - Did you get it too? - You too?

  • Joe, I'm sorry darling.

  • Let's we tear the building down.

  • Before you do, you better finish this column.

  • Lavender and old lace.

  • Wait, Joe. Wait.

  • Wants fireworks, huh?

  • Okay.

  • Here.

  • "Below is a letter which reached my desk this morning.

  • It's a commentary on what we laughingly call a 'civilized world'.

  • Dear Miss Mitchell, 4 years ago I was fired out of my job.

  • Since then I haven't had another.

  • At first I was sore at the State Administration because

  • it's on account of slimy politics we have all this unemployment.

  • But in looking around, it seems the whole world's going to pot.

  • In protest, I'm committing suicide by jumping of the City Hall roof.

  • Signed, a disgusted American citizen: John Doe."

  • Editor's note: "If you ask this column,

  • the wrong people are jumping of the roofs."

  • Ann, this is the old fake-a-roo, isn't it?

  • Never mind that, go ahead.

  • "...because of slimy politics

  • that we have all this unemployment."

  • There it is. D.B Norton's opening attack on the Governor.

  • Why Jim, it's just a letter sent into a column.

  • No, I can smell it. That's Norton.

  • Good morning, gentleman. You're here rather early.

  • Governor, did you happen to see the new Bulletin?

  • Yes, I had it served with breakfast.

  • - Jim thinks it's D.B. Norton. - Of course it is.

  • Come, Jim. That little item?

  • D.B. Norton does things in a much bigger way.

  • It's his opening attack on you, Governor. Take my word for it.

  • What did he buy a paper for?

  • Why did he engage a high pressure editor like Connell?

  • He's in the oil business. Governor, he's after your scalp.

  • Alright, Jim. Don't burst a blood vessel.

  • - I'll look into it. - Yes, sir?

  • Get me Spencer of the Daily Chronicle, please.

  • Yes, I saw it, Governor. If you ask me, it's a phony letter.

  • That gag's got whiskers on it.

  • I'll get the Mayor and Chamber of Commerce to go after them.

  • Get Mayor Lovett on the phone.

  • Sorry, the Mayor's busy on the other phone.

  • Yes, I know, Mrs. Brewster, it's a terrible reflection on our city.

  • - I've had a dozen calls already. - Spencer at the Chronicle.

  • Just a minute.

  • Yes, Mrs. Brewster, I'm listening.

  • I insist that this John Doe be found a job at once.

  • If something isn't done, I'll call out the whole Auxiliary.

  • And the Junior Auxiliary. We'll hold a meeting

  • and see that it is...

  • Yes, Spency? Who?

  • The Governor?

  • It's my building he jumping off! And I'm up for re-election.

  • What? Get Connell at the Bulletin.

  • Why, he's liable to go right past my win...

  • - What was that? - What?

  • - The window. Something flew by. - I didn't see anything.

  • Don't stand there, you idiot. Go and look. Open the window.

  • Why did he have to pick my building?

  • Is there a crowd in the street? Maybe he's caught on a ledge.

  • - It must have been a seagull. - A seagull?

  • What's a seagull doing around the City Hall?

  • - That's a bad omen, isn't it? - No, the seagull's a lovely bird.

  • It's alright, Mrs. Brewster. It's just a seagull.

  • Nothing's happened yet. I'm watching.

  • Don't worry. Leave it all to me.

  • Spencer, I'll call you back.

  • Hello, Connell?

  • This is... What are you doing? This is the Mayor.

  • Yes, Mayor Lovett. How many times you gonna call me?

  • I've got everybody and his brother and sister looking for him.

  • See the box I'm running?

  • "An appeal to John Doe. Think it over, John.

  • Life can be beautiful, says Mayor.

  • If you need a job, apply to the editor and so forth..."

  • Okay, Mayor, I'll let you know as soon as I have something.

  • What?

  • Well, pull down the blinds.

  • Went up to Miss Mitchell's house. Boy, she's in a bad way.

  • - Where is she? - Supports her mother and two kids.

  • - Did you find her? - No. Her mother's worried.

  • She said she was going on a roaring drunk, the girl I mean.

  • Go out and find her.

  • The biggest thing I didn't tell ya. Her old man's Doc Mitchell.

  • He saved my mother's life and wouldn't take money for it.

  • Okay, Boss. I'll look for her.

  • Holy smokes, Commissioner. You've had 24 hours.

  • Okay, Hawkshaw, grab a pencil. Here it is again.

  • About 5 foot five, brown eyes,

  • chestnut hair...

  • and as fine a pair of legs as...

  • ever walked into this office.

  • - Do you want to see me? - No.

  • I've had the whole Army and Navy searching for you

  • because it's a game we play.

  • I remember distinctly being fired.

  • That's right, but you have property that belongs to this newspaper.

  • - What's that? - The letter.

  • - What letter? - The letter from John Doe.

  • The town's in an uproar, we got to find it. It's the only clue.

  • - There is no letter. - We'll get a handwriting expert to...

  • - What? - There is no letter.

  • - Say that again. - I made it up.

  • You made it up.

  • You said you wanted fireworks.

  • Don't you know there are 9 jobs waiting for this guy,

  • 22 families want to board him free,

  • 5 women want to marry him and the Mayor's ready to adopt him?

  • - Just called the morgue. A girl... - Shut up!

  • Ann! Why didn't you...?

  • Only one thing to do, Hank. Drop the whole business quickly.

  • Run a story. Say John Doe was in here,

  • and is sorry he wrote the letter...

  • Sure. He came in here and I made him change his mind.

  • "Bulletin Editor saves John Doe's life." It's perfect.

  • I'll have Ned write it up.

  • - Ned, I got a story... - Wait a minute.

  • Listen, you great big genius of a newspaperman.

  • You came to shoot some life into this dying newspaper.

  • Well, the whole town's curious about John Doe and boom!

  • You're going to bury him.

  • There's enough circulation in that man to start an ink shortage.

  • - In what man? - John Doe.

  • - What John Doe? - Ours. The one I made up.

  • Look genius. Now, look.

  • Suppose a John Doe walked into this office? What would you do?

  • Find him a job and forget the whole business, huh?

  • Not me. I'd make a deal with him.

  • A deal?

  • You don't drop a stunt to sell papers like a hot potato.

  • This is good for a couple of months. Know what I'd do?

  • Between now and Christmas, when he jumps, I'd run a daily yawn.

  • Starting with his boyhood, his schooling, his first job.

  • A wide-eyed youngster facing a chaotic world.

  • The problem of the average man, all the John Does.

  • Then comes the drama. He meets discouragement.

  • He finds the world has feet of clay, his ideals crumble.

  • What does he do? He decides to

  • commit suicide in protest against the state of civilization.

  • He thinks of the river, but no. He has a better idea:

  • The City Hall. Why? He wants to attract attention.

  • He want to get things off his chest and it's the only way to be heard.

  • - So? - So?

  • So he writes me a letter and I dig him up.

  • He pours out his soul to me. From now on we quote:

  • "I Protest", by John Doe.

  • He protests against all the evils in the world.

  • The greed, lust, hate, fear. All of man's inhumanity to man.

  • Arguments will start. Should he commit suicide or not?

  • People will write in, pleading with him. But no, sir!

  • John Doe will remain adamant.

  • On Christmas Eve, hot or cold, he goes, see?

  • Very pretty, very pretty indeed, Miss Mitchell.

  • But would you mind telling me who goes on Christmas Eve?

  • - John Doe - What John Doe?

  • The one we hire for the job, you lunkhead.

  • Wait a minute. Let me get this through this lame brain of mine.

  • We hire someone who says they'll commit suicide on Christmas Eve?

  • Now you're catching on.

  • - Who for instance? - Anybody. Beany'll do.

  • Why sure. Who me? Jump off a...

  • Anytime but Christmas. I'm superstitious.

  • Do me a favor. Go on out and get married, have babies but...

  • stay out of the newspaper business.

  • Better get that story in hand. It's getting late.

  • You're supposed to be a smart guy. If it was raining 100 dollar bills,

  • you'd be looking for a dime you lost someplace.

  • Holy smokes. Wasting my time listening to this mad woman.

  • Look what the Chronicle's running on John Doe. They say it's a fake.

  • Why the no-good...

  • "John Doe story, amateur journalism.

  • This is so phony, it's a wonder anyone's taking it seriously."

  • - What do you think of those guys? - That's fine. That's fine.

  • Now fall into their laps. Go ahead.

  • Say John Doe walked in and called the whole thing off.

  • You know what that'll sound like.

  • - That's all, Ned. Thank you. - All right.

  • Amateur journalism, huh?

  • That bunch of sophomores.

  • - I could teach them more... - Boss! Get a load of this.

  • - What? - Look.

  • What do they want?

  • - They say they wrote the letter. - Yeah, I wrote it, Boss.

  • They all wrote the letter.

  • Tell them all to wait. One is your John Doe.

  • They're desperate and will do anything for a cup of coffee.

  • Pick one and you can make the Chronicle eat their words.

  • I'm beginning to like this.

  • If you ask me, Hank, you're playing with dynamite.

  • No, the girl's right.

  • We can't let the Chronicle get the laugh on us.

  • We've got to produce a John Doe now.

  • Amateur journalism, huh? I'll show those guys.

  • Sure and there's no reason for them to find out the truth

  • because naturally I won't say anything.

  • - Okay, you get your job back. - Plus a bonus.

  • - What bonus? - The bonus of 1,000 dollars...

  • the Chronicle was going to pay me for this little document.

  • "I, Ann Mitchell, certify that the John Doe letter was created by me..."

  • - I can read. I can read. - Sorry.

  • You think this is worth 1,000 dollars, do ya?

  • The Chronicle would consider it dirt cheap.

  • Packs everything including a gun.

  • Okay, sister, you got a deal. Let's look at the candidates.

  • The one we pick has got to be the typical, average man.

  • Typical American that can keep his mouth shut.

  • Show me an American who can keep his mouth shut and I'll eat him.

  • Beany, bring 'em in one at a time.

  • Did you write that letter?

  • - No, I didn't. - What are you doing here then?

  • Paper says there were jobs. Might be one left over.

  • Had any schooling?

  • Yeah. A little.

  • What do you do when you work?

  • - I used to pitch. - Baseball?

  • Yeah, till my wing went bad.

  • Where did you play?

  • Bush leagues, mostly.

  • - Family? Got any family? - No.

  • - Just traveling through? - Yeah.

  • Me and a friend of mine. He's outside.

  • - Looks alright. - He's perfect. A baseball player.

  • What could be more American?

  • - Wish he had a family. - Be less complicated without.