Classic Review – It Happened One Night (1934)

Title – It Happened One Night (1934) 

Director – Frank Capra (It’s a Wonderful Life) 

Cast – Clark Gable, Claudette Colbert, Walter Connolly

Plot – Wild boy reporter Peter Warne (Gable) and runaway heiress Ellie Andrews (Colbert) find themselves stuck together and potentially falling in love as Peter works on a big news story around Ellie and her life on the lam. 

“I haven’t had a good laugh in a week”

Review by Eddie on 14/04/2022

Famed Italian/American director Frank Capra certainly deserves his revered reputation as one of the all time great filmmakers with masterpiece films like Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and Christmas favourite It’s a Wonderful Life key pieces of his filmography but its arguable while not perhaps his best film in the pure sense of the word, Capra’s It Happened One Night is his most influential film laying the foundation for all romantic comedies that would come in its wake. 

Coming before strict movie making codes were bought into effect in America and going on to be one of only a handful of films in history to clean sweep all the major categories on Oscar night, Night in many ways was one of those rare examples were the stars aligned perfectly to allow Capra and his lead acting duo of the Oscar winning Clark Gable (on loan to do this film as punishment following on from an infamous affair) and the never better Claudette Colbert who heated up the screen with chemistry as the mismatched but also perfectly fit for one another Peter Warne and Ellie Andrews. 

Coming across each others paths as Gable’s smooth talking and roguish reporter Warne tracks down a story relating to Andrews heiress being on the run from her millionaire father, what follows in the wake of this simple set-up will be familiar to anyone that has since seen a romantic comedy from the Hollywood system but at the time of Night’s arrival this was a new and fresh take on romance and comedy and while it may not be perfect, there’s very few if any films of this era that could manage to stand the test of time as well as Night as nearing these 100 years on from release. 

While there’s many elements that help Night become the enjoyable and witty outing it becomes such as Capra’s assured direction and screenwriter Robert Riskin’s pitch perfect scripting there’s no denying that the ace up the films sleeve is the spark and magic that comes from Gable and Colbert’s performances together and watching the two Hollywood legends ply their trade alongside one another is one of the great sights of old school Hollywood history. 

Pushing things to the limits with nighttime rituals (and sheet hangings), a whole lot of legs and suggestive dialogue that never falls to the wrong side of crass, watching the relationship between Warne and the sheltered but determined Andrews blossom is one of the finest examples of romance committed to the comedic genre and while the film never really heads into belly laugh territory the perfectly in tune balance of wit and romance found in Night put’s many modern efforts to shame, highlighting why Capra’s classic remains a beloved feature in the public spotlight. 

Final Say – 

The grandfather of the romantic comedy genre as we now know it, It Happened One Night hasn’t aged a day since it first appeared in 1934 as Capra and his acting team take viewers on a joyful road trip that is sure to bring a smile to all that are lucky enough to catch it. 

4 1/2 walls of Jericho out of 5  

6 responses to “Classic Review – It Happened One Night (1934)

  1. Gable is huge and Claudette (from Saint-Mandé, small town near Paris) is a sexy hitchhiker.
    I love that Capra and your review is enlightning perfectly the movie.

  2. Just gave it a watch. I enjoyed it, and it holds up well for a 1934 film. There were a few cringe-moments while watching it with the wife though. I’d have to say that the script has Gable’s character a little too abrasive for modern tastes.

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