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   IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT (1934) 

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CAST
Clark Gable
Claudette Colbert
Walter Connolly
Roscoe Karns
Jameson Thomas
Alan Hale
Arthur Hoyt
Charles C. Wilson

DIRECTED BY
Frank Capra

PURCHASE


DVD




Time: 105 mins.
Rating: Not Rated
Genre: Romantic Comedy

Won Academy Award for Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture.


The comedies of the 30s and 40s are filled with runaway heiresses and the rambunctious reporters that fall in love with them, but few manage to capture the sparkling chemistry achieved in this Oscar-winning Colbert/Gable vehicle. Colbert plays a spoiled, rich girl desperate to escape her father's overbearing clutches and return to the arms of the man she loves aviator King Westley (Thomas). On the run from Miami to New York, she meets up with Peter Warne (Gable), a down-on-his-luck reporter who's stumbled upon the story of the century. He offers to hide her and help her reach the Big Apple in exchange for the exclusive rights to the story of her escape and reunion with the man she loves. Having no money and no experience traveling in the real world, Ellie reluctantly agrees to the bargain. It's no mean feat hiding a woman whose face is on every newspaper in America, but Peter manages to extract them from some pretty sticky situations.

It doesn't take long for Ellie to appreciate more than his resourcefulness. She's never had so much fun and gamely joins in the hijinks. Cozy quarters and several close calls quickly change their initial opinions of each other – he considers her a brainless brat, she thinks he's an obnoxious bully – into mutual respect and secret affection. Of course, once they reach New York they are both forced to make a major decision. Does she officially marry Westley or embarrass her family once again by choosing Peter? Does Peter turn in the story that will make his career and betray Ellie's trust or chuck it all to be with the woman he loves? It's pretty clear what their choices are going to be: there's no way she would marry a pompous wimp like Westley after spending time with a super-masculine rascal like Peter. His dilemma is also hardly compelling since who needs a job when you're wife is loaded.


"Why didn't you take off all your clothes? You could have stopped forty cars."

Yet, what should be trite and hokey becomes sweet and romantic due to the honest connection built throughout the film between these two characters. It's easy to see why Ellie would fall in love with Peter; she's just looking for any man to rescue her from her secluded existence. However, Ellie pulls out all the stops to prove herself worthy of Peter's regard. The character's comic abandon turns what should have been a throwaway role for Colbert into something truly special. Gable gets equally lucky. Peter has no reason to fall for this girl and it's only her willingness to shed her childish behavior and take some responsibility for herself that eventually turns his head. This character gave Gable his first major chance to stretch his comedic muscles and he makes the most of the opportunity. His performance will genuinely delight and surprise those only familiar with his more serious roles. He's vibrant, charming and everything a woman is looking for in a man.

The script is so intricately written that one almost believes the hook-up isn't going to happen. The pacing is perfect, teasing us until we just can't stand the thought of them being apart. Far from lovey-dovey, the dialogue is witty, sharp and occasionally heartless. We may know the outcome, but the road to get there is paved with arguments, anger and misunderstandings. It's also clever, funny and a bit risqué (for 1934). They make an unlikely romantic couple and that's why the end result is so satisfying. Though the film looks a little dated, the dialogue and situations are anything but. This story could be remade today and not lose any of its' charm. Unfortunately, there are no actors with the comic skills and inherent charisma of Gable and Colbert who could pull it off. Of course, there's really no reason for anyone to try. A film even modern audiences can and should enjoy. Don't miss out on one of Hollywood's classic cinema treats.



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