It Happened One Night Reviews
A gem of a film from legendary director Frank Capra. I was expecting a rather standard romantic drama but It Happened One Night is so much better than that. Warm, and hilariously funny at times, it's certainly not your average romantic comedy. Dialogue is incredibly fresh and snappy and even the romantic side is not straightforward, keeping the schmaltz to a minimum and taking some unpredictable twists and turns.
The great direction by Capra and the solid script are aided by wonderful performances from Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert in the lead roles. The chemistry between them is great and their delivery is spot-on.
Both Gable and Colbert received Oscars for their performances, as did Capra for Best Director. The movie was the well-deserved 1935 Best Picture Oscar winner.
Though not Frank Capra's first movie, not by any means, this was the movie that put him on the map and kick-started a run of creativity that would see him make such classics as Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, You Can't Take It With You, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Meet John Doe, Arsenic and Old Lace and, of course, It's a Wonderful Life.
A comedy classic and Academy Award favourite, Capra's film combines charm and wit, laughter and sorrow, and Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert. The film is a fizzy comedy of errors played to perfection, and Gable and Colbert's ever-imitated exchanges will never be forgotten.
It Happened One Night remains a genuine joy to watch for anyone with a heart and a sense of humour, and Hollywood will always be indebted to Capra for kickstarting a trend that would last for decades - if not a decade or two too long.
Colbert is a spoiled, rich heiress who runs away from her family (actually starting this by jumping off a yacht and swimming away from them). Gable is a newspaper reporter who's been fired. They find each other on a crowded train, and are forced to sit together. They hate one another at first, but after spending time on a couple of busses, a car, in the haystack together, and in a hotel room divided by a clothesline with a blanket hanging over it ... well, you get the idea. At one point he carries her across a stream caveman style, over his shoulder, and gives her a swat on the behind as they debate what constitutes a piggyback ride. They confuse each other's motivations and split at the end, Colbert off to wed another (and in a very pretty dress), but we all know where it's heading, and this one is complete with a 'runaway bride' scene.
I don't know if the movie was worthy of sweeping the Academy Awards (and Colbert herself didn't think much of it), but it's still sharp with its dialog, and quite entertaining. Aside from the main story line, it has a nice 'Capra' touch in having everyone on a bus (including the driver) singing verses of 'The Man on the Flying Trapeze' to pass the time. I also smiled over this interchange after Gable's character had tossed some newspapers off the bus to make space for his seat:
Bus driver: "Oh, fresh guy, huh? What you need is a good sock in the nose."
Clark Gable: "Listen pardner, you might like my nose, but I do. I always wear it out in the open, where if anyone wants to take a sock at it, they can do it."
"Now that's a brilliant answer. Why didn't I think of it? Our conversation could have been over long ago."
"You keep that up, we're not going to get anywhere."
"Ya got me. Yeah!" (to chuckling from the other passengers)