It Happened One Night (1934) - Rotten Tomatoes

It Happened One Night (1934)

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AUDIENCE SCORE

Critic Consensus: Capturing its stars and director at their finest, It Happened One Night remains unsurpassed by the countless romantic comedies it has inspired.

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Movie Info

Frank Capra's seminal screwball comedy, which won all five major Academy Awards for 1934, is still as breezy and beguiling today. Claudette Colbert plays Ellie Andrews, a spoiled heiress who has married fortune-hunting aviator King Westley (Jameson Thomas), despite her father (Walter Connolly)'s objections. To keep Ellie from marrying this lothario, her father has been holding her prisoner aboard his yacht. But Ellie bolts from the yacht, swims ashore in her clothes, and eventually slips onto a Greyhound bus bound for New York. Aboard the bus is newspaper reporter Peter Warne (Clark Gable), who has recently been fired for drinking on the job. Peter gets the last seat on the bus -- but when he gets up to argue with the bus driver, Ellie takes his seat. Since it is the last seat on the bus, they have to share it. When Ellie has her purse stolen and she refuses to report it, Peter begins to suspect something. The next morning, they both miss the bus after a leisurely breakfast, and Peter reveals that he knows her identity. She makes a deal with him: if he helps her get to New York, he can write a scoop about her for his paper. Peter thinks she is a spoiled brat, however, and refuses a monetary bribe: "I'm not interested in your money or your problem. You, King Westley, your father -- you're all a lot of hooey to me!" But as they travel northward and engage in a series of misadventures, the gruff newspaperman and the spoiled rich girl, thrown together by circumstances, fall in love with each other. This movie set the pace for the "screwball" comedy, the witty and romantic clash of temperaments between a man and a woman mismatched in both personality and social position, a type of movie often associated with Katherine Hepburn in such classics as Bringing Up Baby (1938), The Philadelphia Story (1940), and, with Spencer Tracy, Adam's Rib (1949), Pat and Mike (1952), and Desk Set (1957), among others. The only other movies to win all five major Academy Awards (Best Picture, Actor, Actress, Director, and Screenplay) were One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) and The Silence of the Lambs (1991). ~ Paul Brenner, Rovi
Rating:
NR
Genre:
Classics , Comedy , Romance
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
 wide
On DVD:
Runtime:
Studio:
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

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Cast

Claudette Colbert
as Ellie Andrews
Clark Gable
as Pete Warne
Walter Connolly
as Alexander Andrews
Jason Thomas
as King Westley
Jameson Thomas
as King Westley
Roscoe Karns
as Shapeley
Alan Hale
as Danker
Ward Bond
as Bus Driver
Henry Wadsworth
as Drunk Boy
Blanche Frederici
as Zeke's Wife
Wallis Clark
as Lovington
Charles D. Brown
as Reporter
Hal Price
as Reporter
Eddy Chandler
as Bus Driver
Ky Robinson
as Detective
J. Frank Holliday
as Detective
James Burke
as Detective
Joseph Crehan
as Detective
Matty Roubert
as Newsboy
Sherry Hall
as Reporter
Charles C. Wilson
as Joe Gordon
Earl Pingree
as Policeman
Harry Hume
as Policeman
Bess Flowers
as Secretary
Fred Walton
as Butler
Ethel Sykes
as Maid of Honor
Edmund Burns
as Best Man
Milt Kibbee
as Reporter
Rev. Neal Dodd
as Minister
Eva Dennison
as Society Woman
Eddie Kane
as Radio Announcer
Harry Holman
as Manager Auto Camp
Tom Ricketts
as Prissy Old Man
Maidel Turner
as Manager's Wife
Irving Bacon
as Station Attendant
Harry C. Bradley
as Henderson
Harry Todd
as Flag Man
Bert Starkey
as Bus Passenger
Rita Ross
as Bus Passenger
Ernie S. Adams
as Bus Passenger
Billy Engle
as Bus Passenger
Dave Wengren
as Bus Passenger
Kit Guard
as Bus Passenger
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News & Interviews for It Happened One Night

Critic Reviews for It Happened One Night

All Critics (52) | Top Critics (8)

It's probably more historically important than it is a masterpiece (the last 20 minutes take the missed conections and misunderstandings an inch too far), but it's still very easy to fall in love with.

Full Review… | February 22, 2015
Time Out
Top Critic

The direction is excellent. Frank Capra never lets his picture lag for a moment. It is never very exciting, but it moves along snappily and it is full of amusing situations.

Full Review… | February 17, 2015
New York Daily News
Top Critic

Instead of attempting a journalistic study of bus-travel, regularly punctuated by comic touches, Director Frank Capra and Robert Riskin who adapted Samuel Hopkins Adams' story, fused the two.

Full Review… | February 4, 2009
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

One of those stories that without a particularly strong plot manages to come through in a big way, due to the acting, dialog, situations and direction.

Full Review… | February 19, 2008
Variety
Top Critic

This is Capra at his best, very funny and very light, with a minimum of populist posturing.

Full Review… | December 12, 2006
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Capra's sense of humour is a little like that of Preston Sturges, though less caustic; and the film shows its stars at their best, Colbert as one of Hollywood's fresher comediennes, Gable as dumb-but-loveable hunk.

February 9, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for It Happened One Night

This charming classic may be the very first screwball comedy of Cinema, a funny, amusing and optimistic movie with a deliciously sharp dialogue and wonderful performances from Gable and Colbert, who have a great onscreen chemistry together.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

Frank Capra's road trip from Miami to New York is actually a poem to everyday America and Americans (your unwashed masses) and laced throughout with vignettes of common people simply enjoying life ... practically the blueprint for Hollywood gold. Remember James Cameron's Titanic? Well, here is where he stole the central theme. Gable and Colbert are great as the surrogates for us in this tale, he as the jack-of-all-trades everyman, and she as the princess who finds her Prince Charming is closer than she thinks. It never gets old, the scene in the bedroom still laced with agonizingly palpable tension, even after all these years.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer

Colbert and Gable hated making it and it ended up being one of Hitler's favorite films, but Capra's perfectly scripted romantic comedy has a stamp of glorious old-Hollywood quality.

Kevin Cookman
Kevin Cookman

Super Reviewer

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