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Review: It Happened One Night (1934)

Finally watched one of those Netflix that has been hanging around the house since, oh, October, and it turns out to be just as great as I suspected. Clark Gable (headstrong reporter) and Claudette Colbert (headstrong poor little rich girl) are thrown together on a bus, and whaddya know, they fall in love.

Gable and Colbert apparently both won Oscars for their parts, and you can see why: they click on screen. Even more amusing to me was the fact that the current tropes of film comedy (competent women, hapless men) are reversed here, with Gable's character clearly able to stand up for himself and Colbert's spoiled heiress acting pretty much like Paris Hilton — and actually being called out for her self-centered whiny laziness. I was also surprised that Gable and Colbert both do a bit of stripping, but I guess this film is a carryover from the Roaring 20s in that regard.

Ultimately, the plot is fairly predictable and fluffy, but it is so well acted and sweet that it should win anyone over. Frank Capra directed, so the film is funny without being mean. I'm not sure that Hollywood gets that any more; many comedies seem pretty harsh these days.

I was charmed, and I'll look for a few more pictures of the era. Anyone got recommendations?

It Happened One Night: ★★★★☆


( 11 sutras — Your wisdom )
Dec. 20th, 2004 07:42 pm (UTC)
Sorry 'bout that first comment. I clicked OK before I was ready. Here we go:

  • Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
  • The Adventures of Robin Hood
  • King Kong

    If you liked the romantic comedy style, you might also look at some 40's films:

  • His Girl Friday
    The Philadelphia Story
    Woman of the Year

    And of course the 40s movie era contains those wonderful noir films. Ahhh.
  • neonettchigreen
    Dec. 20th, 2004 10:51 pm (UTC)
    Ahh...sweet noir... how do i love thee? let me count the ways....

    I'm so gonna name my cat "Noir"...
    Dec. 20th, 2004 10:55 pm (UTC)
    Yep, got Mr. Smith, Philly Story, and His Girl Friday covered. I'll have to look for Woman of the Year and Adventures of Robin Hood.

    I'm sorta waiting for the Peter Jackson remake of Kong. The 1970s one was soooooo bad.
    Dec. 21st, 2004 01:05 am (UTC)
    if you're looking at Philadelphia Story, you should also check out Holiday.
    Dec. 21st, 2004 02:49 pm (UTC)
    The Adventures of Robin Hood (this is the one with Errol Flynn) came out on DVD about two years ago. It's excellent. Tons of special features and it even has the "Robin Hood Daffy" Loony Tunes cartoon with the teeny tiny Flynn cameo.
    Dec. 21st, 2004 07:53 am (UTC)
    Hoo boy ;)

    Old movies are kinda my obsession. I love good acting and better story, and it seems that so few of the US movies these days can come anywhere close to the good oldies.

    Several of my recommendations were already mentioned, but I'll add my voice to The Adventures of Robin Hood, seeing as how it is amazing. I fell in love with it when I was 12 and have watched it more than a few times since. Errol Flynn just brings out the joy in the life of a care-free bandit perfectly, and it's hard to go wrong with Basil Rathbone(sp?).

    I'll not keep quite to the 30s, but move ahead a bit as well on my recommendations (most of which Netflix has, as I've used it for them ;)

    The Thin Man - Sort of like an old version of Clue. Mystery/Comedy with some nice little twists and good humor.

    Stagecoach - If you like Westerns, this is a killer. John Wayne with a great cast and a good story about something as simple as a stagecoach ride.

    Duck Soup - Marx bros with a comic great. It'll have you laughing every time you see it.

    Mr. Deeds Goes to Town - They just remade this movie with Adam Sandler recently. Having seen them both, my recommendation is get this one. The remake is not horrid, but this is just so much better. Gary Cooper plays a charming, innocent, wonderful fellow thown into a den of city-types. It's funny and thoughtful.

    All Quiet on the Western Front - Based in WWI, the characters are fairly bland, which actually adds to the movie. This is very much a war movie, and is done very well. A very serious one.

    Bringing Up Baby - Another great oldie I saw when I was quite young and have enjoyed not nearly often enough since then. A fun romantic romp with wonderful acting from Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn, the movie centers around a leopard named Baby and a wonderfully fun romance. Good fun.

    Those are some of the ones from the 30s that I really like. I'll just make a quick list for some of the later ones, and if you'd like to just delete the ones you've seen, I'll do a quick description of the ones you haven't. (I'm leaving out some obvious ones, like Casablanca and Gone With the Wind).

    Citizen Kane
    The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
    The Maltese Falcon
    The Big Sleep
    Arsenic and Old Lace (!)
    Miracle on 34th Street
    Seven Samurai (!)
    12 Angry Men (!)
    North by Northwest
    Singin' in the Rain
    Some Like it Hot
    The Bridge Over the River Kwai
    High Noon
    The African Queen
    Roman Holiday (!)
    The Day the Earth Stood Still
    The Lion in Winter
    Tengoku to Jigoku (High to Low)
    My Fair Lady

    OK, that should be enough for right now ;) Hopefully that gives you some ideas.
    Dec. 23rd, 2004 04:52 pm (UTC)
    Thanks! I've seen more of them than I expected, but there's some unfamiliar names as well. Didn't know you were an old movie buff...

    Since that makes about 3 votes for "Adventures of Robin Hood", that moves to the top of the list.
    Dec. 24th, 2004 08:02 pm (UTC)
    *nods* old movie buff for most of my life. My dad always brought in b&ws to watch, and it grew on me pretty quickly.

    I'll have to come up with some more for you then, if you've seen most of those. It's good practice for me, as I need to go back and refresh myself on a few of the ones I've not seen in several years.

    Have a great Xmas!
    Dec. 24th, 2004 09:38 pm (UTC)
    Oddly enough, I love old films, but one of the quirks of my childhood is that for me, Old = Silent. Not because I'm old enough to have seen the silent films in a theatre, but because I grew up watching super 8 mm prints of Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, and Laurel and Hardy. My father got the films from the local library and would screen them for us at home. He's still a big silent film fan, and I have to admit that "City Lights" and "Modern Times" and the like are among my favorite films.

    Which is why I'm so eager to see the silent film version of "The Call of Cthulhu" completed. Progress seems to be good; the trailer is now available.

    If you've got more recommendations from the 30s and 40s, I'd love to hear them.
    Dec. 23rd, 2004 11:38 am (UTC)
    It Happened One Night Oscars
    St. Louis Jay here...

    Interesting you mentioned that Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert won Oscars for this movie (and, I agree, a great, fun old flick). The film also won Best Picture, Best Director, and a writing award. Only two other films have achieved the same: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and The Silence of the Lambs.
    Dec. 23rd, 2004 04:56 pm (UTC)
    Re: It Happened One Night Oscars
    Hey Jay! That is a pretty impressive list of Oscars. As in, all the big ones (and I count the writing award among the big ones!).

    I'm not sure it all holds up, though. Any film from the period is dated, of course, but some of "It Happened One Night" just seems to be from an alien world. But given the choice of that one, "Cuckoo's Nest," or "Silence", I'd definitely watch the 30s flick over the others. More optimistic.
    ( 11 sutras — Your wisdom )

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