Saturday, January 1, 2011

It Happened One Night

I've already blogged about two other films to win all five of the most prestigious Oscars,and this one was the first. It's pretty fitting that I saw it right after Intolerable Cruelty, as it's definitely right in that romantic screwball comedy groove and judging by the awards it received it was considered one of the very best examples of it. And it really is a damn good movie. Clark Gable is one of the last very famous old actors I had never seen before, and while I didn't like his character at first, his brand of tough guy charm did eventually grown on me. Claudette Colbert is also great as his female counterpart, and the two are one of the best pairs I've seen in films from the era. Director Frank Capra is probably better known these days for It's a Wonderful Life, but It Happened is the one that was actually a big success at the time, and while the style seems pretty traditional, there's no doubt that the whole movie is well put together.

Colbert plays the daughter of a wealthy banker who runs away when he threatens to annul her marriage to a thrill-seeking gold digger, and she's helped on her trip to see him in New York by Gable's reporter, who does so in exchange for a story about her. Of course they fall in love during their travels, and while these kinds of infidelity stories always bother me a little bit, the movie makes it obvious that her husband is more interested in money than her and really the focus is all on the comedy and the developing romance. I've seen a couple of the more famous scenes before, but they work even better in context of the whole thing, and it's the kind of clever, good-natured comedy that just doesn't exist anymore. It's also pretty suggestive, as I think it's one of the last big movies before Hollywood started censoring itself for a while. It's a fun movie, and while it's not the kind that would get that kind of award attention these days, it's certainly an example of what the old studio system excelled at.

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