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The Colonel's "Heel-Lots" Rant from "Meet John Doe"

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posted on Mar, 27 2014 @ 07:36 PM
The following quote is from a 1941 movie called, "Meet John Doe" I saw recently on TV that stars a really young and rather cute Barbara Stanwick. When I was watching the Colonel ranting I was cheering him on and thinking, "Amen Brother! Amen!" It's a great rant that's hard to believe is now 73 years old.

Even though this is from a movie and thus appropriately in the Movies forum, IMO it really belongs in the Social and Civil Unrest forum as it still applies to our present time.

I found most of the rant, word for word, in this Orlando Sentinel article (link) and quote it below.

In the old Frank Capra movie Meet John Doe the character played by Walter Brennan (the Colonel) had no regard for worldy wealth. He contended that money led to slavery.

The Colonel says to his old hobo friend, ''I tell ya it's no good. You're going to get used to a lot of stuff that's going to wreck ya. I've seen guys like you go under before, guys that never had a worry. Then they got a hold of some dough and went goofy.

The first thing that happens to a guy like that is he starts wanting to go into restaurants and sit down at the table and eat salads and cupcakes and tea. The next thing the dope wants is a room. Yes sir, a room with steam heat - and curtains and rugs. And before ya know it he's all softened up and he can't sleep unless he has a bed. When ya become a guy with a bank account - they gotcha. Yes, they gotcha.''

Says a bystander, ''Who's got him?''
''The heel-lots,'' replies the Colonel. ''And when they got ya, ya got no more chance than a road rat.''

The Colonel goes on to describe how the man with nothing is completely ignored by all the store owners and salesmen. But when this person gets a little money, he can't get rid of the ''heel-lots.'' ''A lot of heels,'' he says.

"Suddenly everyone is trying to sell him something. They got long claws. And they get a stranglehold on ya. First thing ya know ya own things, a car fer instance. Now ya got your life messed up with a lot more stuff. Ya got license fees, and number plates, and gas, and oil, and taxes, and insurance, and identification cards, and letters, and bills, and flat tires, and dents, and traffic tickets, and motorcycle cops, and courtrooms, and lawyers, and fines, and a million an' one other things."

''Then what happens?"
"You're not the free and happy guy ya used to be. Ya gotta have money to pay for all those things. So ya go after what the other fella's got. And there you are - you're a heel-lot yerself!''

posted on Mar, 27 2014 @ 10:39 PM
Well this post has been up for about fours hours and not one reply. At least someone gave me a star, thanks whoever that was!

I thought I would throw some more comments in here and hopefully stir up some discussion.

Although I didn't watch the movie through to it's conclusion, I got the idea right away that it was about the plight of the little guy and how they are used and manipulated by the big players. Players like the politicians, rich powerful citizens and the newspapers. The newspaper who invented John Doe fired a bunch of employees, perpetuated a lie, elaborated on it, and then put on a big show all for increased sales. The movie touched on many of the topics you would see here on ATS involving political corruption and media propaganda, and that was just in the beginning of the film.

Maybe the colonel's rant was just a romantic portrait of a depression era hobo living a free and unfettered lifestyle, but I think it was way deeper than that considering the context of the storyline. The article from the Orlando Sentinel even gave it biblical significance.

I hope to hear some replies soon.



posted on Mar, 27 2014 @ 11:29 PM
reply to post by MichiganSwampBuck

Well Walter Brennan was one of the finest character actors of that old generation. He won something like 4 Oscars in supporting roles I think. I was in high school in the sixties when I saw that movie as part of a social studies class. I was struck by his vehemence during that rant. I went and checked the dictionary to check out the word. Since then I have attempted to steer clear of them heelots.

Over the years I have referenced that word in conversations any number of times, always falling on deaf ears and have never known another person, other than Ole Walt use it until now.
Thanks. I'm not alone in the universe.

posted on Mar, 28 2014 @ 08:12 AM
reply to post by TerryMcGuire

Thanks for the reply Terry, star of course.

I guess from what you say, it's no wonder this thread isn't getting any posts. I certainly never knew about this movie until I happened upon it. I only watched it to try to guess when it was made and because of Barbara Stanwick (being an old Big Valley fan as a kid).

Anyway if that channel plays the movie again, I'm probably going to record it just for that rant or I will at least catch the ending.

posted on Apr, 8 2014 @ 12:01 PM
reply to post by MichiganSwampBuck

Now I never cared for Stanwyck in Big Valley. However, in viewing some of her movies to understand her popularity, I found her to have been very accomplished as an actress in her earlier years. In Double Indemnity she shines, and a great noir movie to boot. My personal favorite was as an ambitious woman from "the wrong side of the tracks" working and sleeping her way to the top in a 1933 movie called Babyface. Whatta dame.

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