It Happened One Night (1934)
Directed By: Frank Capra
Written By: Robert Riskin
Starring: Clark Gable, Claudette Colbert
Length: 105 min.
Genre: Romantic Comedy
1935 Oscar Winner - Best Writing, Adaptation - Robert Riskin
1935 Oscar Winner - Best Actress - Claudette Colbert
1935 Oscar Winner - Best Actor - Clark Gable
1935 Oscar Winner - Best Director, Frank Capra
1935 Oscar Winner - Best Picture
One of 3 movies to win all of the Oscars that make up "The Big Five", Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Writing (either of them) and Best Picture. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Silence of the Lambs are the other 2.
Claudette Colbert plays a rich woman, Ellen Andrews, who has eloped with a man against her father's wishes. She's in Florida and her new husband is in New York. She escapes her father and sets off on a road trip (by bus) to get to NY. Her father hires detectives to find her and bring her back (apparently a thing a father could do in the 1930s was kidnap his adult daughter).
Peter Warne (Clark Gable) is a journalist who has just been fired from his paper. He hops on a bus to New York to speak to his former employer in person. He meets Ellen on the bus and they don't get off to a good start, but he quickly figures out who she is. He'll help her avoid attention and get to New York for exclusive rights to her story.
What follows is a series of misadventures that see the couple suffer set back after set back, and along the way, wouldn't you know it, they fall in love.
Fairly standard rom-com. The basic beats have been there since the early films of Harold Lloyd and they're unchanged here. They hate each other, they love each other, they miscommunicate and then a chase-style scene.
I know you all know how I feel about rom-coms by now, but this one did have its moments. And it was very well acted. There was a scene where they are hitchhiking. The cars constantly pass him but one stops once she shows her leg. This scene might be one of the most parodied and referenced scenes in cinema history. And I thought the scene where they act like an arguing married couple to throw off a few detectives was very funny. But overall, underwhelming for an Oscar winner.
This film came out at just the right time. Its release date was February 22, 1934, and some of the scenes here were a bit scandalous. The Motion Picture Production Code, aka "Hays Code", would go in full effect by the middle of 1934. I doubt this movie would have passed the test with all of the scenes of a man with a married woman in a room together.
My Rating: 6/10
IMDB User Rating: 8.1/10 (84k votes)
Rotten Tomatoes: 98% Critics (55-1), 93% of Audience (4.2 / 5 ; 33k votes)