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4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
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on 5 December 2005
"It Happened One Night" is one of the most enduring of romantic comedies. Released in 1934, its black and white images are iconic - Gable & Goddard hitching is a classic scene, but there are many others from the film which have an unforgettable cachet. Set against the realities of the Depression, Frank Capra delivers a distinct feel-good quality; this was a film which attracted a huge popular audience.
Claudette Colbert plays a beautiful heiress who has married a lounge-lizard society type against the wishes of her father. Father keeps daughter locked up on his yacht while he pursues nullification of the marriage, but Colbert escapes and sets off on a bus ride back to her husband in New York. She has never done anything so independent before, has never travelled on anything as cosmopolitan, never mind proletarian, as a bus. She simply hasn't a clue how to survive without servants.
On the bus she meets down-on-his-luck newspaperman, Clark Gable. The pair team up, eking out the few dollars they have between them, travelling by bus, hitching lifts, coyly sharing motel rooms, a blanket hung by rope to separate twin single beds - a system they famously describe as 'the walls of Jericho'.
"It Happened One Night" won five Oscars - Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director, and Best Adaptation (Robert Riskin's script). Made by Columbia, it was an unlikely hit - Capra struggled to cast it and it was certainly not as well promoted as many of its rivals that year. But the public loved it. The film gently disparages the rich, spoiled background of the heiress - the film starts with Colbert on hunger strike, but on the bus journey she will meet people who are actually starving because they have no money. Capra was always able to capture that love-hate relationship between the popular audience and images of the rich.
Capra seems to have been the only one who believed in the film - Colbert was not his first choice and she was very reluctant to take the role. Gable was loaned to him, and played against character throughout. Shot in four weeks and on a low budget, Capra and Gable wrung a reluctant performance from Colbert - despite her resistance to the part, she delivers an excellent performance. Capra handles the narrative with expertise, giving the audience time to understand the dynamic between the two characters. He blends drama with comedy with romance. Despite its age, the film continues to work as a delightful story, superbly performed and directed, with timeless humour and compassion.
The DVD offers a very acceptable black and white transfer with adequate sound quality, and some interesting extras - not least a radio broadcast of the play of the film, with Colbert and Gable revisiting their roles before a live audience. Highly entertaining and a film you can watch and watch.
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on 26 February 2001
It Happened One Night is one of the best films ever made. It is the perfect romantic comedy with one memorable scene after another. Although the movie is nearly seventy years old it has aged remarkably well. The storyline is relatively fast paced (for a 30's film) and it also benefits from the extensive use of location filming. The exceptional quality of the print used by Columbia Tristar in the manufacturing of this DVD ensures maximum viewing pleasure. As far as the extra features go, considering this is a Region 2 DVD they're not bad. Of particular note is a radio broadcast made a few years after the movie again starring Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert. The only disappointment is the absence of an excellent commentary track by Frank Capra Jr that appears on the Region 1 release. Given that this DVD is more expensive than the American version it's a pity Columbia Tristar couldn't negotiate the rights to this commentary.... Still, you have to applaud them for including an old classic like this in their schedule of DVD releases. At the time of writing the Region 1 DVD is still available from (USA), otherwise sit back enjoy this one.
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on 29 November 2002
This is the story of a little rich girl (Claudette Colbert) opposing her father by running away. She 'accidently' hooks up with Peter (Clark Gable) a just-fired news reporter and so begins the tale. The film was one of the first to sweep the boards at the Oscars - and deservedly so in my opinion - both Colbert and Gable sparkle on screen - they were both quite young 'ish when this film was made and the innocence of the era shines through without being 'mawkish' or boring.
I thoroughly enjoyed watching this again - the humour is still as fresh as when it was made and the transfer to DVD means the overall picture quality is bright and clear.
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on 20 August 2005
This is one of my favourite films, and features one of my favourite actors, Clark Gable. This film has been called the 'original' screwball comedy. Claudette Colbert plays Ellie Andrews, who has escaped from her millionare father who wants to stop her marrying playboy King Westley. She gets on a coach heading for New York, and there she meets reporter Peter Warne(Gable). He will help her get back to New York if he is allowed to write a story on her. I won't say anything more about the plot, except you have to see this! Look out for a hilarious hitchhiking scene!
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on 29 March 2013
Although this movie from 1934 certainly shows its age, it is still a very effective comedy largely on account of the chemistry between the two leads. Here we have a very young Clark Gable who was surely providing a model for romantic male leads to follow. Compared to some romantic male leads (hangovers from the silent era) in early thirties movies, Gable is genuinely handsome and charming and shows a real flair for comedy. He is also, crucially, young - something not always guaranteed in this era. For once, the leading lady seems to be the older in the pairing but Claudette Colbert was still very attractive and also very good at the comedy aspects of the role - one of my favourite moments is when the pair pretend to be a married couple to foil the detectives who are after Colbert's character, Colbert is particularly excellent here. I liked the 'road movie' style and (not having watched many old movies) found the bus setting atmospheric and original. There's a very good 'feel-good' moment when the passengers are all singing together on the bus - its fun! Perhaps the more daring aspects of the movie, eg the 'walls of Jericho' are not quite as daring as they once were but they still work.

Overall I enjoyed this movie very much and think it truly is a classic.
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on 7 November 2012
'IT' happens at the end of a great deal of fun. The first 'screwball' or the first Rom-Com. Claudette is great eye-candy and Clark's ears are his 'great flaw' yet very endearingly so. Despite finding the feet of the genre in a sometimes slightly clunky way, the script and the plot are altogether delightful - a lovely way to spend an hour and 40 minutes. Superb!
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on 4 March 2016
A wonderful Hollywood movie, with two of the greatest "A-listers" from the past at the height of their fame! It was good to see the versatility of Gable, particularly as he was noted for his more dramatic roles. I do believe that this was also the movie that decreased the sales of "men's vests" when he had to demonstrate how a man" gets undressed!"
It was quite a treat to have the special features that were included with this DVD ,whereby the director, Frank Capra's son spoke of the origin of the script and made mention of Claudette Colbert's reaction to the making of the movie.
More impressively, was the short period of time in which the movie was made and the audience's reaction to the film, which led to this film winning 5 Oscars from the Academy!
Watching this movie still emotes a feel-good sensation and appeals to the "Romantic" within the viewer!
A highly recommended feature and purchase!
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on 4 September 2004
Peter Warne: Why didn't you take off all your clothes? You could have stopped forty cars.
Ellie Andrews: Well, ooo, I'll remember that when we need forty cars.
On-screen chemistry has the ability to turn a good film into something special. Look no further than Frank Capra's "It Happened One Night" for proof of this. Whoever came up with the idea of pairing Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert together in this production certainly earned his or her paycheck.
Rich girl Ellie Andrews (Colbert) runs away from her father so that she can be with her one true love, King Westley (Jameson Thomas). Ellie has little knowledge of how the outside world works so she hooks up with reporter Peter Warne (Gable) who offers to help her reach New York in return for the exclusive rights to her story. The pair finds each other intolerable at the outset but as they spend more time together, their opinions of one another start to change. By the time they arrive in New York, Ellie and Peter must decide if they should act upon the newfound affection that has developed between them.
"It Happened One Night" is effectively funny and romantic at the same time. The out-of-the-way situations Ellie and Peter find themselves involved in is screwball comedy at its finest and the love that develops between them is Hollywood magic at its most charming. Colbert and Gable show why they were two of the biggest stars of their era and the chemistry they display on screen still is magnetic to this very day. "It Happened One Night" is also a fascinating cultural text due to its suggestive sexual overtones and its vivid depiction of a woman who is determined to take matters into her own hands when the situation calls for it. Both of these aspects are especially noteworthy when one considers the period in which the film was made. Yet, if "It Happened One Night" is to be remembered for anything, it should be remembered for the classic that it is. After all, when you speak of pure cinematic bliss, you speak of scenes like the one where Ellie flashes her thigh to stop an approaching car - truly one of the greatest moments ever caught on film.
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on 12 June 2016
Come on! What's there not to like? Sweet story - now has documentary feel which just adds to the pleasure of it all. Fancy a trip back to the 1930s with loveable characters and witty dialogue - far from grotesque uniform movements? Gable. Colbert...gone but here to enjoy. Bring back the pleasure principle!
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on 15 September 2012
i bought this for my husband on our 36th anniversary. its his all time favourite film we had it on a vidoe which was taped from the tv many moons ago, but the quality was getting worse. i didnt think i could get one on dvd tried amazon and there it was..... he loved it by way!!
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