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  • Yeah, D.B. Just cleaning out the deadwood. OK.

  • Look Mr. Connell. I just can't afford to be without work. I've got a mother and two kid sisters.

  • More good-luck telegrams...

  • You know how it is. I've just 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 no 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. What we need is fireworks.

  • People getting hit with sledgehammers. Start arguments.

  • I can do that. I know this town inside out. Oh, give me a chance!

  • Come in, come in, come in...

  • Cashier's got your check. Who are these people? Gabs, Frawley, Cunningham, Jiles...

  • Hey sister, don't forget to get out your last column before you pick up your check.

  • You're a couple of sticks shy in your column, Mam.

  • Big, rich slob like D.B. Norten buys the paper and 40 heads are chopped off!

  • Did you get it too? Yeah, you too?

  • Oh, Joe. I'm sorry, darling. Why don't we tear the building down?

  • Before you do ma'm, perhaps you'd better finish this column.

  • Lavendar and Old Lace.

  • Wait Joe! Wait.

  • He want 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. 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 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 is going to pot. So in protest, I am going to commit suicide...

  • ...by jumping off the City Hall roof. Signed a disgusted, American citizen, John Doe.

  • Editor's note, if you ask this column, the wrong people are jumping off the roofs.

  • Hey, this is the old fake-a-roo, Never mind that Joe, go ahead.

  • And it's because of the slimy politics that we have all this unemployment here.

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

  • Why Jim, it's just a letter sent into a column. No, no, I can smell it, that's Norten.

  • Good morning, gentlemen. Good morning, Governor.

  • Governor, did you happen to see this in the New Bulletin?

  • Yes, I had it served at my breakfast this morning. Jim thinks it's D.B. Norten at work...

  • Of course it is.

  • Oh come, Jim. That little item. D.B. Norten does things in a much bigger way

  • This is his opening attack on you Governor. Take my word for it.

  • Why did he buy a paper for? Why did he engage a high-pressure editor like Connell for?

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

  • All right Jim. Don't burst a blood vessel. I'll look into it.

  • Yes sir? Get me Spenser of the Daily Chronical please.

  • Yes, yes I saw it Governor. And if you ask me, that's a phony letter.

  • Why that gag has got whiskers on it.

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

  • Get Mayor Lovett on the phone.

  • Sorry the Mayor is 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 from the Chronical. Hold him. Just a minute.

  • Yes Mrs. Brewster. I'm listening.

  • I insist that this John Doe man be found, and given a job at once.

  • If something isn't done about it, I'll call the whole auxiliary.

  • Yes Spencer? Who? The Governor?

  • Well what about me? It's my building he's jumping off of and I'm up for re-election too.

  • What are you doing? Get Connell at the Bullentin.

  • He's liable to go right past my window Get me Connell.

  • What was that? What?

  • Out the window Something just flew by I didn't see anything.

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

  • Oh why did he have to pick on my building? Is there a crowd in the street?

  • No sir! Maybe he's caught on the ledge, look again.

  • I think it must have been a sea gull A sea gull? What's a sea gull doing around City Hall?

  • That's a bad omen, isn't it? Oh no sir. The sea gull is a lovely bird.

  • It's all right Mrs. Brewster. It was just a sea gull. Nothing's happened yet. I'm watching. Don't worry just 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 are you going to call me?

  • Got everybody out looking for him. Did you see the blacks 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 of this paper and so forth and so forth.

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

  • Well, pull down the blinds.

  • I just came from Mrs. Mitchells house, and boy is she in a bad way. Where is she?

  • Did you know she supports a mother and two kids. What do you know about that?

  • Did you find her? No, her mother is awful worried about her. When she left the house, she said she was going on a roaring drunk!

  • The girl, I mean. Go out and find her. Sure.

  • But the biggest thing I didn't tell you, is her old man is Dr. Mitchell. You know the doc that saved my mother's life...

  • and wouldn't take any money for it. You remember that?

  • Okay boss, I'll go and look for her.

  • Holy smokes Commissioner, you've had 24 hours. Okay, grab a pencil, here it is again.

  • About 5 foot 5, brown eyes, light chestnut hair, and a fine of pair of legs as...

  • ...ever walked into this office.

  • Did you want to see me?

  • No. I've had the whole army and navy out searching for you because it's a game we play here everyday.

  • I remember distinctly being fired.

  • That's right, but you have a piece of property that still belongs to this paper and I'd like to have it.

  • What's that? The letter.

  • What letter? The letter from John Doe.

  • The whole town's in an uproar. We've got to find him and the letter is the only clue.

  • There is no letter. Then get a handwriting expert to... What?

  • There is no letter.

  • Say that again. There's no letter. I made it up.

  • You made it up? Yes, you said you wanted fireworks.

  • Don't you know there are 9 jobs waiting for this guy ? 22 families want to board him free.

  • Five women want to marry him and a man is ready to adopt him. And you...

  • Just called the morgue boss and they said there's a girl... Shut up !

  • Ann! Say why didn't you... Beany!

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

  • Run a story saying John Doe was in here and he's sorry he wrote the letter...

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

  • Bulletin editor saves John Doe's life. Why it's perfect. I'll have Ned write it up.

  • Oh Ned, I've got a story I want you... Wait a minute.

  • Listen you great, big, wonderful genius of a newspaper man...

  • You came down here to shoot some life into this dying paper, didn't you?

  • Well the whole town is curious about John Doe and just like that, you're going to bury him.

  • There's enough circulation in that man to start a shortage in the ink market.

  • In what man? John Doe.

  • What John Doe? My John Doe! The one I made up.

  • Look genius. Suppose there was a John Doe and he walked into this ofice. What would you do?

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

  • Not me! I'd make a deal with him.

  • A deal?

  • Sure, when you get hold of a stunt that sells papers, you don't drop it like a hot potato.

  • Why this is good for at least a couple of months. Why, do you know what I'd do?

  • Between now and let's say Christmas, when he's going to jump,

  • I'd run a daily starting with his boyhood, schooling, first job.

  • A wide-eyed youngster facing a chaotic world! The problem of the average man, of all the John Doe's in the world.

  • Now, then comes the drama.

  • He meets discouragement, he finds the world his feet of clay, his ideals crumble. So what does he do?

  • He decides to commit suicide and protest against the state of civilization.

  • He thinks of the river but no. He has a better idea. City Hall. But why?

  • Because he wants to attract attention.

  • He wants to get a few things off his chest, and that's the only way he can get himself heard...

  • So? So?

  • So he writes me a letter and I dig him up. He pours out his soul to me.

  • And from now on we quote: I protest, by John Doe. He protests against all the evils in the world.

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

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

  • People will write in pleading with him.

  • But John Doe will remain adament. On Christmas Eve hot or cold, he goes!

  • See?

  • 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 lunk-head. Wait a minute.

  • Let me get this through this lame brain of mine.

  • Are you suggesting that we go out and hire someone to say that he is going to commit suicide on Christmas Eve?

  • Now you're catching on. Who for instance?

  • Anybody, Beany will do. Sure...

  • What, who me... jump off a... anytime but Christmas. I'm superstitious.

  • Miss Mitchell, do me a favor. Go on out and get married and have a lot of babies, but stay out of newspaper business.

  • Better get that story in Hank, it's getting late.

  • You're supposed to be a smart guy If it was raining 100 dollar bills, you'd be out looking for a dime you lost some place.

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

  • Look Chief what the Chronical is writing on John Doe. They say it's a fake.

  • Why the no good! John Doe story amature journalism.

  • It's probably phony and it's a wonder that anyone is taking it seriously. What do you think of those guys?

  • That's fine! Now fall right into their laps. Go ahead.

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

  • You know what that's going to sound like on top of this.

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

  • Amature journalism huh?

  • Why the bunch of sophomores, I can teach them more... Hey boss, get a load of this.

  • What? Look.

  • What do they want? They all say they wrote the John Doe letter.

  • Oh, they all wrote the letter? Tell them all to wait.

  • Mr. Connell, one of those men is your John Doe.

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

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

  • I'm beginning to like this. If you ask me Hank, your beginning to play around with dynomite.

  • No, no, no, the gal's right.

  • Can't let the Chronicle get the laugh on us.

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

  • OK sister, you'll get your job back Plus a bonus.

  • What bonus? Oh the bonus of 1000 dollars that the Chronicele was going to pay me for this little document.

  • You'll see it says, I Miss Mitchell, do hereby certify that the John Doe letter was created by me... I can read, I can read.

  • Sorry...

  • You think this is worth 1000 dollars, do you? The Chronicle will consider it dirt cheap.

  • Packs everything, including a gun. OK sister, you've got yourself a deal.

  • Now let's take a look at the candidates.

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

  • Typical, American and can keep his mouth shut.

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

  • Okay Beany, bring them in, one at a time...

  • Did you write that letter to Miss Mitchell?

  • No, I didn't. Why are you here then?

  • Well the paper said there was some jobs around. Thought there might be one left over.

  • Have any schooling? Yeah, a little.

  • What do you do when you work? I used to pitch.

  • Baseball? Yeah, till the wing went bad.

  • Where'd you play? Bush leagues, mostly

  • How about family? Got any family? No.

  • Oh, just travelling through huh? Yeah, me and a friend of mine. He's outside.

  • He looks all right. Oh, he's perfect and a baseball player What could be more American?

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

  • His face is wonderful. They'll believe him! Come on.

  • What's your name? Willaby. Long John Willaby they called me in baseball.

  • Would you like to make some money?

  • Yeah... maybe... Would you be willing to say you wrote that letter and stick by it.

  • I get the idea. Yeah, maybe.

  • That's our man, he's made to order.

  • I don't know. He don't seem like the kind of guy that will fall in line.

  • When you're desparate for money, you'll do a lot of things Mr. Connell. He's our man, I tell you...

  • He's fainted. Get some water, quickly Right here, sit down.

  • You all right? Yeah, I'm all right.

  • How many is that, six?

  • Pretty hungry, weren't you?

  • All this John Doe business is batty if you ask me. Well, nobody asked you.

  • Trying to improve the world by jumping off buildings.

  • You couldn't improve the world, if the buildings jumped on you.

  • Don't mind the Colonel, he hates people. He likes you well enough to stick around.

  • That's cause we both play doo-hickies.

  • I met him in a boxcar a couple of years ago.

  • I was fooling around with my harmonica and he comes over and joins in.

  • I haven't been able to shake him since.

  • All right boys, here he is. No, you can't take pictures of him like that, eating a sandwich and with a beard.

  • But he's going to jump of a building.

  • Yes, but not because he's out of a job. That's not news. This man's going to jump as a matter of principal.

  • Maybe you're right.

  • We'll clean him up, put him in a hotel under bodyguards. We'll make a mystery out of him.

  • Did you speak to Mr. Norten? He thinks it's terrific.

  • He says for us to go the limit. Wants us to build a bonfire under every bigshot in the state.

  • Oh, swell!- Is that the contract? Yeah.

  • What's he doing here? A friend of his, they play duets together

  • Oh you trust him, well that's fine. I suppose he trusts you too.

  • Oh stop it now. He's all right.

  • Okay, but we don't want any more than a couple of hundred people in on this thing.

  • Now the first thing I want is an exact copy of the John Doe letter in your own handwriting.

  • I've got it already here.

  • That's fine. 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 26, you get one railroad ticket, out of town.

  • And they agree to have your arm fixed. That's what you want, isn't it?

  • Yeah, but it's got to be by Bone, Set or Brown. OK, Bone, Set or Vrown goes.

  • Here sign it. Meanwhile, here is 50 dollars, spending money.

  • That's fine. Beany, take charge of him.

  • Get him a suite at the Imperial and some bodyguards.

  • He needs some new clothes Beany. Do you think we'd better have him de-loused? Yeah, yeah, yeah.

  • Both of them? Yes, both of them, but don't let them out of your sight.

  • Hey Beany, grey suit huh? Yeah.