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Sunday, March 9, 2008

It Happened One Night (1934)

It Happened One Night is a comedy released in 1934, from the stable of Director Frak Capra. The movie was based on a story by Samuel Hopkins Adams, called Night Bus. The movie was very popular, and was the first movie to win all 5 major Oscars
- Best Picture,
- Best Director: Frank Capra,
- Best Actor: Clark Gable
- Best Actress: Claudette Colbert
- Best Screenplay: Robert Riskin
An interesting tidbit is that Clark Gable's award statuette was auctioned in 1996, Steven Spielberg had the winning bid of $607,500. He got it, and then donated the award to the Academy. No such luck for Claudette's award; when it was offered for auction in the next year, nobody bid for it.

It Happened One Night (1934)

The movie had a different sort of love story - a mismatched couple; an indifferent out of work reporter out for a story, and a superior acting heiress running away from a protective father. The story of how they came together over a period of time (the title is a bit misleading, no climatic event happens on any one night), and realize that they are in love with each other was skilfully presented, making this an all time great movie. And this was after neither Gable nor Colbert were satisfied by the script, but after starting the movie, they accepted it. The end result was a movie that was reckoned to be smart, sexy, funny, and a great see. Imagine a movie in the 30's having a scene where the hero claims to be an expert at hitch-hiking, but is unable to stop a single passing vehicle. Then the heroine uses her unfair advantage by lifting her skirt and flashing a bit of thigh, presto, a vehicle stops.
The movie is about this rich heiress Ellie Andrews; spoilt rotten by her father. She falls for a rich money-seeking and handsome weasel, King Westley. Her dad stops her in the nick of time, but the call of love is over-powering and she jumps off from her prison aboard the family yacht and wants to make her way to New York to join her love. Boarding the bus, she meets Peter Warne (Clark Gable). Gable has just been fired from his newspaper. They have a brief skirmish over a seat; when that is settled, she misses her bus the next day (hilariously assuming that the bus will wait for her when she is having a great breakfast). Her purse has been stolen, she has no money, and the reporter has recognized her. He threatens to tell her dad about her location unless she gives him the story, and what a juicy story that will be.
They have to spend nights at motels on the way, and he uses a clothesline with a blanket to separate the single room in which they are staying (staying as a married couple in order to save money). All the time he taunts her for being a rich spoilt girl (when she suspects him of being funny by booking a room as a husband and wife, he turns it around by telling her that he is only interested in the story and not in her). Near the end, he leaves the motel for some work, and the couple owning the motel kick her out suspecting some funny business. Ellie is so disoriented that she calls her dad, who is so relived at getting her back that he agrees for her marriage. In a misunderstanding, she thinks that Peter has betrayed her, while Peter believes that she has double-crossed him.
Peter does contact her dad, but not to claim the large reward, but only the sum that he spent on her. Her father is so intrigued that he gets after the reporter until Peter tells the truth, he is in love with Ellie, although if he were rational, there was no reason that he should be in love with her. The climax, the marriage scene. Andrews tells his daughter that Peter did not betray her, he only came for the expenses, and if she really loves Peter and wants to make her dad happy, she should run away. There is a car waiting at the back, and she does. The happy dad negotiated with Westley to get the earlier marriage annulled, and everybody is happy.

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