Really, it happened over the course of several consecutive nights, but I guess that’s splitting hairs. Since we just watched a movie set during the Great Depression, let’s watch a movie made during the Great Depression. Our entry this time around is the first film to take home the so-called Big Five awards and progenitor of a million romantic comedies: Frank Capra’s It Happened One Night, starring Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert.
Sheltered and rich Ellie Andrews has been spirited away from her marriage to Some Rich Guy by her disapproving father- before, it seems, they could consummate their union. She jumps ship while the old man seeks an annulment and hits the road toward her new husband with nothing but the clothes on her back. On the bus from Miami to New York, she’s spotted by just-sacked newspaper reporter Peter Warne, who agrees to accompany her, thereby getting himself the inside scoop on the manhunt for Ellie which is already making news. The trip doesn’t go as smoothly as planned and wouldn’t you know it they start falling for each other.
I had heard about this movie years ago. It was a pleasant watch, for the most part. Gable’s character is the highlight of the film in my opinion. He’s clever, quick witted, and deeply human. The most enjoyable scenes to me where of their escapades while on the road, and their banter. Once they leave the bus and have to trek to New York via hitchhiking, things really take off. For all her sheltered upbringing, Ellie is plucky and clearly wants to assert herself as an individual. She is charming in the scene in which they are first trying to hitch a ride. She is able to match Peter when he goes toe to toe with her, which makes their romance believable. Watching the film, I felt as if rom-coms haven’t really changed that much. It follows the formula – two characters at odds and verbally sparring until they eventually realize they are in love. Continue reading