The Heelots Speech

“Meet John Doe” is a 1941 film directed by Frank Capra. It stars Barbara Stanwyck as a Journalist and Gary Cooper, with Walter Brennan, both penniless and unemployed hobo’s. When Gary Cooper receives $50, Walter Brennan (“The Colonel”) launches into the following monologue to explain what “Heelots” are.

“When you become a guy with a bank account, they got yer, yes sir, they gotcha.You’re walking along, not a nickel in yer jeans, and you’re free as the wind; nobody bothers you, hundreds of people pass you by in every line of business – shoes, hats, automobiles, radios, furniture – everything, and they’re all nice, lovable people and they let you alone. Then you get hold of some dough and what happens? All those nice, sweet, lovable people become Heelots! A lot of heels.

They begin creeping up on yer, trying to sell you something; they get long claws and they get a stranglehold on yer, and you squirm and you duck and you holler and you try and push ’em away, but you haven’t got a chance – they gotcha!

The first thing you know, you own things – a car, for instance. Now your whole life is messed up with a lot more stuff, like licence fees and number plates and gas and oil and taxes and insurance and identification cards and letters and bills and flat tyres and dents and traffic tickets and motorcycle cops and courtrooms and lawyers and fines and a million and one other things!

And what happens? You’re not the free and happy guy you used to be. You’ve got to have money to pay for all those things, so you go after what the other fellow’s got – and there you are, you’re a Heelot yourself!”