Film Review: It Happened One Night (1934)

Release Date: February 22nd, 1934
Directed by: Frank Capra
Written by: Robert Riskin, Samuel Hopkins Adams
Based on: Night Bus by Samuel Hopkins Adams
Music by: Howard Jackson, Louis Silvers
Cast: Clark Gable, Claudette Colbert

Columbia Pictures, 105 Minutes

Review:

“You know, I had you pegged right from the jump. Just a spoiled brat of a rich father. The only way you get anything is to buy it, isn’t it? You’re in a jam and all you can think of is your money. It never fails, does it? Ever hear of the word humility? No, you wouldn’t. I guess it would never occur to you to just say, ‘Please mister, I’m in trouble, will you help me?’ No, that would bring you down off your high horse for a minute. Well, let me tell you something, maybe it will take a load off your mind. You don’t have to worry about me. I’m not interested in your money or your problem. You, King Westley, your father. You’re all a lot of hooey to me!” – Peter Warne

It Happened One Night is a motion picture that came out during the brief pre-Code era in Hollywood. In fact, it dodged the bullet of the Motion Picture Production Code by just a few months. Maybe that’s why this film got away with that “racy” hitchhiking scene that the film’s star Claudette Colbert thought was “unladylike”.

This film is a romantic comedy. Yeah, I’m not a big fan of the genre but some of the classics are pretty damn good and even in the modern era, one may sneak in once and awhile and surprise you (The Big Sick, for instance). It Happened One Night works really well because of the chemistry of its two leads, as well as its style of humor. Clark Gable delivers his lines like the pro he is and really gets to display his humorous side.

The story is pretty simple. A rich heiress wants to marry a guy her rich daddy doesn’t approve of so she runs off. The reporter keeps running into the girl and he promises to help her and not call her father if he gets an exclusive scoop. They end up traveling from Miami to New York together with a few wacky situations on the way. At a point, they get separated and then realize that they have fallen in love. Don’t worry, there’s always a happy ending in these old lighthearted movies.

It Happened One Night is considered a true classic by many and really, it is. There aren’t a lot of rom-coms that are worth a damn but this one exists on a level that the others do not. In fact, it is a good movie in spite of its genre. It actually shows that the rom-com thing has been poorly crafted and executed for decades, except for a few good pictures once in a blue moon. It Happened One Night is that “once in a blue moon”.

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