It Happened One Night is a 1934 romantic comedy film directed by Frank Capra and stars Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert. It was the first of three films to win the Big Five Oscars: Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director, and Best Screenplay.
Claudette Colbert plays Ellie Andrews, a spoiled socialite who has recently married a fortune-hunting pilot named "King" Westley. Andrews' wealthy father disapproves of Westley, believing he is only interested in her money. Ellie jumps the ship she is on with her father in Florida and runs away. She boards a bus in hopes of getting back to New York to reunite with her spouse. On the bus she meets Peter Warne (Gable), a recently-fired newspaper reporter who recognizes her and tells her she must give him an exclusive of her story or he'll send her back to her father. Ellie agrees to the former, and the two begin a series of adventures.
After Wings, watching the next few Best Picture winners was a fairly dreadful experience I wish to never go through again. I began to grow impatient about when I could finally view a Best Picture winner and feel satisfied. It Happened One Night came to the rescue. Considered to be one of the ultimate examples in romantic comedy, the film provided for a charming and enjoyable experience that I very much needed. Gable and Colbert create a loving romance with on-screen chemistry that puts the love stories in the likes of The Broadway Melody and Cavalcade to shame. The humor provides a nice touch of lightheartedness and keeps the romance from becoming too dominant.
- The realism of Gable and Colbert's romance. The best part of watching Ellie and Peter fall in love is that it feels natural and realistic. The two do not fall in love at first sight or over the course of 24 hours. They also bicker at one another from time to time. The occasional arguments between the two is integral in preventing their romance from turning into something out of an early Disney film, where almost everything is sunshine and rainbows. Anyone in love can admit to having argued with their significant other at some point. Ellie and Peter's love tale has a perfect pace, and Gable and Colbert look like a match made in heaven. The two are not stiff or inept. They know how to exchange dialogue and embrace one another in a way that allows us to truly believe their characters' romance.
- There was nothing about the film that I found to be a significant flaw. If I had to nitpick at anything, the humor never reaches a level of laugh-out-loud funny, except in, perhaps, the hitchhiking scene. Of course, extreme laughs are not relevant to the film's structure. As I mentioned earlier, the humor makes the film lighthearted enough to keep it from turning into a seriously sappy love tale. Any movie romance is better with a nice touch of humor mixed in somewhere.
After a string of dull and forgettable Best Picture winners, It Happened One Night stands out as not only one of the award's better winners, but also as a timeless example of romantic comedy. Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert should go down as one of the most natural and heartfelt couples to ever grace the world of cinema. Over 80 years later, the two can still prove that love is an interesting thing.
Here you'll find my reviews on just about any film you may have seen. I try to avoid major spoilers as much as possible. I structure my reviews in the following way: