It’s hard to discuss this movie and not mention that this was the first Oscar Grand Slam. It won best picture, actor, actress, director and screenplay and with good reason. If you love Romantic Comedies, this is the must-see film that in my mind truly started it all. Sure romantic comedies had existed for years previously but this film proved it can be an art form. Previously films focused on the romance more than anything else while It Happened One Night managed to create a completely new subgenre, the Screwball comedy.
It happened one night created most of the troupes you see in romantic comedies today. A smooth and selfish guy and the prude girl who hates him. The two get trapped in a situation together and slowly fall in love. The film as practically remade in the 1980s in Rob Reiner’s The Sure Thing.
Frank Capra directed this film in 1934, while most of the stars didn’t think it’d do well at all audiences were charmed by the chemistry and comedy of stars Claudette Colbert and Clark Gable as well as as the humor is Robert Riskin’s script. The film was written more like the risky plays you’d find in New York than a typical hollywood film. It discusses sex in an open nature for it’s time (as the MPAA began the Hays Code the same year).
Spoiled heiress Ellie marries King Westley against the wishes of her rich father. So he has the marriage annulled. This causes Ellie to runaway. Meanwhile down and out Newspaper Reporter Peter recognizes Ellie and promises to help her get to Westley under the condition he gets the exclusive.
What starts off as a relationship of blackmail and hatred grows slowly blooms into love. The transformation feels natural and genuine (something I can’t say about many of the modern rom-coms).
This film represents everything I love and miss about the Screwball genre. The dialogue is quick and smart, packed with puns, one-liners and plenty of hidden raunchiness. If you’ve never seen this film but love romantic comedies this is a must see for you.
Matt Kelly can also be found hosting The Saint Mort Show, Co-hosting the Reddit Horror Club Podcast, Writing for Geekscape,Tweeting and running Dollar Monday Promotions.