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It Happened One Night (1934)

[IMDB Completionists Series - #7 of 85]


Twelve years before he made 'It's A Wonderful Life', Frank Capra cobbled together the budget and borrowed Clark Gable to make 'It Happened One Night' for Columbia, with unexpected success, bagging five Oscars, including all of the big ones. Picture, Director, Actor for Gable and Actress for Claudette Colbert.


At the time, whilst not revolutionary as such, several techniques were applied to the film which audiences may not have been familiar with, like the removal of place cards, an introduction of sound and transitions, like fading and sweeping from one scene to another and most notably, the use of back projection.


As a story, it is more social comment than riveting, edge-of-the seat adventure, repeatedly returning to the ideas and divides of class and the expectations of wealth and the trials of struggle. This is most obvious in the relationship between our two main players. She is a society darling from a wealthy family, recently married to what her father sees as an unsuitable suitor. He is a happy-go-lucky entrepreneurial journalistic reporter with a nose for a good story, relying on his wits to survive, rather than a trust fund.


They meet as she is escaping the clutches of her overbearing father, taking the bus to New York, and they are thrown together on the trip, where the social and class divides become all the more evident.


As a pre-cursor for romantic comedies made since, you can see the footprints of this all over the place, such was its influence and the performances were both refreshing and charming and the interplay between our two leads is very engaging, so it comes as no surprise that the film received many plaudits upon its release.


Better was to come from Capra, certainly, but this is still worth a viewing for any real lover of cinema.



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