“It Happened One Night” is another movie I had never heard of before I stumbled upon this list and started going through the movies. Boy, I’m glad I had the opportunity to watch this film. This movie is the rare comedy that cleaned up at the Academy Awards. It became the first film to win the big five (Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, and Screenplay) and even today it is easy to see why.
Should this film be considered a classic? The fact that this movie won the big five was probably enough to get it included on the list, but that takes nothing away from the absolutely superb entertainment it provides. This was apparently one of the last romantic comedies made before the Hay’s Code began being enforced and you see that coming through in some of the mildly suggestive dialog. I say “mildly” because this is a film that you could watch with your kids and never have to worry about them hearing foul language or seeing compromising situations. I think the witty script and stellar performances are what have made sure that this film is seen by many generations of movie watchers. Despite being nearly eighty years old, the movie is a lot of fun and is the kind of comedy that adults can enjoy watching because of the nice mix of subtle humor, a bit of outlandish humor, and the absolutely crazy situations the two characters find themselves in.
The casting and directing of this movie are both superb. Clark Gable is hilarious as Peter Warne, the reporter looking for an easy buck who grows to love the rich runaway Ellie Andrews (Claudette Colbert). The two of them make perfect foils for each other and seem to be the perfect fit for their roles. Frank Capra does great work from the director’s chair and gets great performances from all involved and makes great use of the sets (especially the bus ride which takes up a good portion of the first half of the movie). The bus ride scenes alone are worth the price of admission as well as the classic hitchhiking scene.
Would I own this film? I would love to get a copy of this film. It’s the kind of movie that you want to watch on a cold night with a cup of hot cocoa in your hand and your wife curled up beside you on the couch. It’s an easy film to like and proves that not just serious epics and dramas can win the big awards. It’s a pity that we don’t have more comedies like this made today. This is comedy made for adults but is also family friendly. It is also the kind of romantic comedy that guys can watch without feeling like they have to turn in their man card.