I have a confession to make.... I'm from the South and I hate Gone With the Wind. Now I know some of you are asking yourselves how this is even possible. Me, a girl with an undying love for old movies, who was born and raised below the Mason-Dixon line doesn't like THE GREATEST SOUTHERN FILM OF ALL TIME? And to this I say, have you ever tried to sit through the entire piece in one straight viewing whilst listening to Scarlett rant and rave about how much her life sucks and how many FEELINGS she has for Ashley? Not to mention the fact that Clark Gable downright infuriates me, normally I can't resist a snarky, handsome leading man, but in this case... The reason you need to know all of these facts about a movie that is mostly un-related to today's pick is this: I detest Clark Gable. Don't ask me to explain why, I just do. So when TCM forced (okay, they didn't, not really, but I get sucked in and am powerless against my remote) me to watch It Happened One Night, I was not amused. I raved and ranted, in my mind of course, against what was sure to be a two-hour long example of why Clark Gable is
themostannoying worst actor in the world. So this post is for you, Clark Gable, I'm still not a fan, but you certainly softened my heart with this film.
Ellie Andrews, played by Claudette Colbert, is a spoiled, naive rich girl. Because she is a typical, wealthy heiress, she cannot see that marrying Westley, who is only after her for her money, is a bad idea. Her father, thinking he is doing what's best for his beloved daughter, annuls the marriage. Ladies, we all know from experience that the moment a man tries to tell us what they believe is the right thing we do the exact opposite to prove them wrong. So, in a temper, Ellie packs her bags and hops on a bus to New York City, in the hopes that Westley will still have her.
Westley is a bit of a sleaze, as is to be expected from any fortune-hunter, and possibly this is why I found myself cheering when Ellie takes a seat next to Peter Warne (Clark Gable). This is also the point at which I felt it was possible I needed to go to the doctor, because, as mentioned before, CLARKE GABLE, I do.not.like.him. But as I was saying, Ellie and Peter meet. Peter is an out of work reporter, and he realizes that his fellow passenger is the infamous (and wealthy) daughter of Alexander Andrews.
Now, at this point, Mr. Andrews has realized that his beloved daughter has gone missing, and offers a reward for whoever can return her safely to him. Peter, being in a bit of a desperate financial situation, decides to make a deal with Ellie: she can either give him the scoop on the story of her marriage/annulment and he will help her reunite with Westley, or he will contact her father and inform him of her whereabouts so that he can collect the reward money. Obviously, Ellie chooses option A, because
she would rather spend time with a handsome stranger than go back to the man who tries to make her decisions for her she is hopelessly in love with the rotten Westley.
It Happened One Night is considered one of the greatest romantic comedies of all time, so you don't need me to tell you that Ellie and Peter fall in love. Their journey together, as cheesy as this sounds, is what makes this film such a classic. A boy and a girl who wouldn't usually end up together realize that they have more in common than they may think. They both step outside of their comfort zones and take a chance on each other.
Claudette Colbert is the epitome of the girl who thinks she knows what's best, but is really clueless about the real world. And Clark Gable, much as it pains me to admit this, will win you over with his charm and how hard he falls for a girl he had no intention of falling for in the first place:
Alexander Andrews: Oh, er, do you mind if I ask you a question, frankly? Do you love my daughter?
Peter Warne: Any guy that'd fall in love with your daughter ought to have his head examined.Alexander Andrews: Now that's an evasion!Peter Warne: She picked herself a perfect running mate - King Westley - the pill of the century! What she needs is a guy that'd take a sock at her once a day, whether it's coming to her or not. If you had half the brains you're supposed to have, you'd done it yourself, long ago.Alexander Andrews: Do you love her?Peter Warne: A normal human being couldn't live under the same roof with her without going nutty! She's my idea of nothing!Alexander Andrews: I asked you a simple question! Do you love her?Peter Warne: YES! But don't hold that against me, I'm a little screwy myself!
Didn't you just swoon a little bit reading those lines? They get me every time.
Another thing you should know about It Happened One Night is that it was directed by Frank Capra-- the same fabulously amazing director that was responsible for It's A Wonderful Life, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, and Arsenic and Old Lace. (Three movies that should be added to your to-watch list.) Mr. Capra was a favorite of audiences and critics alike, so it's no surprise that this film went on to win all the major categories at the 1934 Academy Awards (actor, actress, director, screenplay, best film). It was also one of the last romantic comedies to escape the MPAA's rating system, which probably would not have allowed one of the all-time most-memorable movie scenes to make it to the big screen:
If you're like me and have an inexplicable Clark Gable aversion, you should watch this film. If, unlike me, you think that Clark Gable is the bees knees, you should watch this film. Basically, you should just watch this film because it's quite brilliant and if you've never watched anything from the earlier years of Hollywood filmmaking, this a good introduction. So, off you go, and do try to give Mr. Gable a chance, he's not so terribly awful (I can't quite bring myself to say that I love him as Peter Warne, even though I do), and you might just discover a new favorite.