Wednesday, August 18, 2010

1934: It Happened One Night

This was the first film on the list that I'd actually seen before I started this project, and I must say that I did not at all mind having an excuse to watch it again.  This is 1930s romantic comedy at its best!

Heiress Ellen Andrews has run away to get back to the man she's eloped with, of whom her overprotective father greatly disapproves.  On the bus she ends up sitting next to Peter Warne, a newspaper reporter who has just lost his job, and who thinks Ellen's story is just the leverage he needs to get it back.  Of course they end up falling in love, but that's pretty much the only predictable thing about this film.  The snappy dialogue alone is enough to keep it interesting, without even taking into account all the hilariously disastrous situations they get into.  Then there's the amazing chemistry between the film's stars, Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert.  While this era was filled with romantic comedies, many of which are incredible, it would be difficult to find a more perfect example of the genre than It Happened One Night.

Not only did this film win Best Picture, it was also the first of only three films to date to win all five major Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actor, and Best Actress.  As far as I'm concerned it deserved all of them.  Gable and Colbert are fabulous.  The writing is impeccable.  It is put together wonderfully.  Maybe I'm biased because I love old romantic comedies like this, and if you're more into war films you might not agree with me that this is the best film on the list so far.  Still, if you're only going to watch one 1930s romantic comedy in your life, you could do much worse than It Happened One Night.

Next up: Mutiny on the Bounty

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