Monday, 23 May 2011

AFI 100 Movies #35 It Happened One Night (1934)

It Happened One Night was directed by Frank Capra and released by Columbia Pictures in 1934, it was the first movie to pick up the five main awards at the Oscars.

Claudette Colbert plays Ellen, a spoiled brat, who marries a gold digger "King" Westley against her wealthy father's wishes. Her father takes her away from her new beau before the wedding can be consummated, but she escapes, determined to get back to him.

Ellen gets on a greyhound bus bound for New York, where she meets Peter Warne (Clark Gable), an out of work newspaper journalist who recognises who she is and offers her an ultimatum: she can accept his offer of help in exchange for the exclusive rights to her story, or he will go to her father and tell him where she is and claim a $10,000 reward. She decides to accept his offer of help.

They end up hitch hiking and get into numerous scrapes along the way, and somewhat predictably she declares that she loves Peter. They check in at a motel, while Ellie is asleep, Peter decides that he loves her too and leaves there and then to make arrangements.

The motel owners assume that Peter has done a runner and throw Ellie out, she thinks that he doesn't have feelings for her and decides to go back to her father, who agrees reluctantly to let her marry Westley.

Will Ellie end up with Westley or Peter?

Gable is a charming rogue, a character type he seems suited to, and Colbert plays her part well.

The filming of this movie was, by all accounts, a stressful one. Claudette Colbert was so convinced that she would not win the best actress oscar that she decided to book herself a holiday! When the head of Columbia Pictures found out that she had won, an employee was despatched to go and catch her before she got on her train and drag her to the ceremony!

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