“I had you pegged from the jump: just a spoiled brat of a rich father.”
A spoiled heiress (Claudette Colbert) whose controlling father (Walter Connolly) disapproves of her recent elopement with an aviator (Jameson Thomas) runs away, and is discovered by a reporter (Clark Gable) hoping for a big story. As they travel together, they gradually fall in love — but Colbert’s new husband is waiting for her…
Response to Peary’s Review:
Frank Capra’s screwball fairy tale — which swept all of that year’s five major Oscars — is, as Peary notes, a “super” film with many special “small moments” (who can forget the “Walls of Jericho”, or Gable and Colbert trading hitchhiking tips?). Unlike most of Capra’s later work, IHON is decidedly un-preachy; while it offers astute observations on issues of class and gender, none of these “lessons” are hammered over our heads. Colbert was reportedly unhappy with being cast in the film, but her implicit disdain works well for her character; and Gable — with his wisecracking, cynical demeanor — is perfectly cast as the tippling reporter who finds himself falling for Ellie despite his better judgment. A personal favorite of many, It Happened One Night is certainly must see viewing for all film fanatics.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Clark Gable as wisecracking Peter Warne
- Claudette Colbert as strongheaded Ellie (nominated by Peary as Best Actress of the Year in his Alternate Oscars book)
- Roscoe Karns as an obnoxious bus passenger trying to sweet-talk Colbert: “Well, shut my big, nasty mouth!”
- Gable scaring Karns by posing as a gangster
- The infamous “walls of Jericho” scene
- Peter attempting to show Ellie how hitchhiking “should” be done
- An entire bus bursting into song with “That Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze”
- Joseph Walker’s gorgeous b&w cinematography
Yes. This classic romantic comedy has held up remarkably well, and should be seen by every film fanatic. Nominated by Peary as one of the Best Pictures of the Year in his Alternate Oscars book (though he ultimately chooses The Scarlett Empress instead).
(Listed in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die)