Friday, July 22, 2011

Movie Review: It Happened One Night

Since I do love a good, or even cheesy, romantic comedy, I figured why not go back to one of the originals. It Happened One Night (1934) stars Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert and it was the first movie to win an Academy Award in five categories (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Screenplay). The plot centers around a spoiled heiress named Ellie Andrews. Ellie has married someone against her father's wishes and after being discovered before the marriage is consummated, she runs away to find her estranged groom only to be intersected by out-of-work newspaper reporter Peter Warne (played by Clark Gable). Warne is down and out, and after he recognizes Ellie, he offers to help track down her groom on the condition that she will give him an exclusive story. Ellie agrees since her other choice is having Warne rat her location out to her father. Ellie and Peter then begin a journey to find Ellie's groom not knowing that the two will soon find love in each other. Before the two can be together, however, there are a few little complications, and although the title alludes to "one night", the story takes place over several days.

I really enjoyed the chemistry between Colbert and Gable. Gable plays the part quite flippantly and although he's a wisecrack, he is also lovable and attractive. Colbert is also quite charming, but vulnerable too and up for an adventure with Gable. Before Colbert accepted to take the role, she was about to leave for a four week vacation to Sun Valley, but she agreed to shoot the film only because Columbia agreed to double her salary and not take more than four weeks to complete filming. The film was finished in four weeks, but you can't tell from watching it. It is very well made and has some great lines, comedic talent, and of course love.

Photo from
I first got the inkling to watch this movie after seeing it in Sex and the City 2 when Carrie and Mr. Big are watching the famous hitchhiking seen where Colbert reveals a slice of her gams in order to hitch a ride.  It turns out that at first Claudette Colbert refused to shoot the scene as she deemed it un-lady like, however, after she saw the body double that would be doing the scene for her, she decided she didn't want just anyone representing her legs, so she did the scene herself.  Also, even though the film won so many Academy Awards, it wasn't warmly received at first and even Colbert complained to a friend that she had just finished making the "worst picture in the world" when shooting finalized.  When the nominations for the Oscars came out, Colbert decided not to attend the ceremony, instead she made her way to the train station for a cross-country trip.  She was intercepted though when the studio chief sent someone to pick her up so that she could attend the ceremony, so for this reason Colbert accepted her award wearing a two-piece traveling suit.  A film did not win five awards again until 1975 when One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest won in the same categories as It Happened One Night.


  1. I love that you just reviewed this, because I watched it about two weeks ago and it was so charming!

  2. I know right?? It was refreshing watching it, even though it was made in the thirties. Goes to show you how quality is just timeless :) Thanks for the comment.