It Happened One Night (1934)
Reviewed on 2010 August 5
Very witty Frank Capra gem from 1934, arguably the first of many screwball comedies and still holds up well.
Ellie Andrews (Claudette Colbert) is a society critter; a heiress that has just annoyed her father by marrying aviator and playboy King Westley (Jameson Thomas, who reminded me a bit of Snidely Whiplash here). Daddy Alexander Andrews (Walter Connolly) threatens to have the marriage annulled, and when her arguments won’t dissuade him, Ellie rebels by jumping off Daddy’s yacht and swimming for it. (Apparently the ’30s saw a better class of socialite. Reasonable or not, this girl had guts.) Ellie escapes and decides to take the bus to New York to meet her new husband, and while she has no idea of how things work outside her posh life, she plans to get there on sheer determination. She doesn’t count on a wild card: reporter Peter Warne (Clark Gable, a.k.a. charm with feet).
Despite the fact that it’s 76 years old, here we have a vintage movie instead of something that’s just hopelessly dated. A lot of what fuels this is that the give-a-darn-o-meter works for the leads here; despite his impatience with his new companion, Peter Warne is a good man. Capra himself described Claudette Colbert as “a tartar, but a cute one” and that comes through here too. I did wince a little at some of the dialogue between Gable and Colbert — in a couple of scenes he almost talks to her like she’s a kid — but this did come from the 1930s. I can still get past that and I’m sure during the Great Depression it was a much-needed shot in the arm. It’s still fun today.
Three chocolate morsels and a nice Sidecar cocktail.