It Happened One Night

Frank Capra, USA, 1934, 105 minutes

This is one of those films that ranks as an almost mandatory inclusion on critics favourite pictures lists, deservedly so, for everything matches well to form a fluid, balanced movie. But, most importantly, it also happens to be funny.

The plot is not really the all that important in this case, but for the record, Claudette Colbert is the rich, spoiled heiress who has run away from the sheltering umbrella of her father, who doesn't want her to marry her pilot fiance (James Thomas). On the bus to New York she finds herself sitting next to the glib, cock-sure, newly-unemployed reporter Clark Gable. As in all Screwball comedies, the hero and the heroine hate each other from the very start, which of course means that they perpetually end up in close company. From then on the comedy is in the bickering and mix-ups as they trek across country in search of civilisation.

This was another of those movies that was almost never made, and eventually Columbia managed to find stars willing to take the risk and rushed production through within a month. A giant success, it was the first picture to scoop five major academy award: best picture, director, actress, actor and screenplay. The striking presences ot Colbert and Gable make the entire picture; it is truly hilarious and worthy of the over-used term 'must see'.

Review by Mark Radice
Taken from EUFS Programme 1993-94