It Happened One Night

It Happened One Night (1934) Director: Frank Capra

“Two great lovers of the screen in the grandest of romantic comedies!”


It Happened One Night is a very good movie, an entertaining romp filled with comedy and romance. It is light-hearted and whimsical, and comes well-recommended.

A wealthy heiress, Ellie Andrews (Claudette Colbert), tries to elope with a pilot, despite her father’s misgivings. She runs away and travels on a bus to New York where she meets Pete Warne (Clark Gable), a fired newspaper writer. They go on a many traveling adventures together, as Pete vows to help her get to New York. They stay together in hotels, where he respects their separate sleeping areas by constructing a “wall,” or a blanket that delineates their bedrooms. In addition, they hitch hike, among other hijinks. One of the most famous scenes in the film occurs when Pete tries to hail a car, but fails. They only success when Ellie lifts her dress to reveal her leg. Instantly a car stops to pick them up. Eventually they fall in love, Pete gets his old job back, and he narrowly misses Ellie on the road until she runs away at the altar with her pilot fiancee. Peter and Ellie get together at the end with the approval of her father.

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Directed by the great Frank Capra, It Happened One Night was not an initial success. After a second release, it gained traction among small towns and local cinemas for the appeal of its simple romance story. Eventually it became a box office smash success, easily Columbia’s most successful film to date. Ironically, in 1935 after being nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress, Colbert decided not to attend the ceremony by taking a cross-country road trip. When she won the award, a studio executive ordered someone to get her off the train so she could arrive at the ceremony, as the train had not yet left the station. The film won all five Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Writing.

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Peter: “Why didn’t you take off all your clothes? You could have stopped forty cars.”
Ellie: “I’ll remember that when we need forty cars.”

Ellie: “You’ve been telling me what not to do ever since I can remember.”
Mr. Andrews (her father): “That’s because you’ve always been a stubborn idiot.”
Ellie: “I come from a long line of stubborn idiots.”

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