Clark Gable gave his Oscar for It Happened One Night (1934) to a child who admired it, telling him it was the winning of the statue that had mattered, not owning it. The child returned the Oscar to the Gable family after Clark's death.
While shooting the scene where he undresses, Clark Gable had trouble removing his undershirt while keeping his humorous flow going and took too long. As a result the undershirt was abandoned altogether. It then became cool to not wear an undershirt which resulted in a large drop in undershirt sales around the country. Legend has it that in response, some underwear manufacturers tried to sue Columbia.
Friz Freleng's unpublished memoirs mention that this was one of his favorite films, and that it contains at least three things upon which the character "Bugs Bunny" was based: - The character Oscar Shapely's (Roscoe Karns) personality - The manner in which Peter Warne (Clark Gable) was eating carrots and talking quickly at the same time - An imaginary character mentioned once to frighten Oscar Shapely named "Bugs Dooley." Other mentions of "Looney Tunes" characters from the film include Alexander Andrews (Walter Connolly) and King Westley (Jameson Thomas) being the inspirations for Yosemite Sam and Pepé LePew, respectively.
Constance Bennett and Myrna Loy, among others, turned the script down. Claudette Colbert only accepted because Capra promised he would double her salary and she would be done in four weeks. She disliked the film so much she didn't even attend the Oscars; when she won for Best Actress she was found about to leave on a trip and was rushed to the ceremony, where she made her acceptance speech in a traveling suit.
Columbia Pictures was considered a Poverty Row studio at the time of the film's release. Both MGM and Warner Brothers would lend out temperamental actors to Columbia as a 'humbling experience.' Studio boss 'Harry Cohn', who was loath to pay for his own roster of contract stars during the early 30's, would invariably assign them to work on Frank Capra's films. Although the studio had received Oscar nominations prior to this picture, its success virtually single-handedly lifted Columbia out of the ranks of poverty row.
When director Frank Capra asked Claudette Colbert to expose her leg for the hitchhiking scene, she at first refused. Later, after having seen the leg of her body double, she changed her mind insisting that "that is not my leg!"
She was so convinced that she would lose the Oscar competition in 1935 to write-in nominee Bette Davis, that Claudette Colbert decided not to attend the awards ceremony. When she, contrary to her belief, won that year for her performance in It Happened One Night (1934) she was summoned from a train station to pick up her Oscar.
Frank Capra was concerned when so many stars rejected his script and turned to playwright Myles Connolly for advice. The writer thought the characters could be made more sympathetic and made constructive suggestions which were incorporated into the script within a week.
According to Frank Capra, Claudette Colbert was the sixth actress that was offered the lead role. Colbert reluctantly accepted the role turned down by the other five actresses when Capra agreed to double her salary and guarantee that Colbert only had to work for four weeks or less.
It is widely believed that MGM ensured their contracted star Clark Gable received the Best Actor Oscar to promote his career at the studio. Only three actors were nominated that year, and it was widely believed Charles Laughton would have easily won for his highly acclaimed performance as the tyrannical father in The Barretts of Wimpole Street (1934) had he received a nomination.
The locomotive that holds up Peter Warne, supposedly in New Jersey, is a Southern Pacific 2-6-0 Mogul, number 1662, class M-4, built by the Cooke Works of the American Locomotive Company, commonly known as ALCO.
Several actors in studio records/casting call lists did not appear or were not identifiable in this movie. These were (with their character names): Henry Wadsworth (Drunk Boy), Eddie Kane (Radio Announcer), Charlie Hall (Reporter) and Tom Ricketts (Prissy Old Man).
In the Scene where Peter Warne is held up by an SP Train the location was on Santa Anita Avenue in Arcadia, CA just north of Huntington Drive. The tracks where Warne is stopped were part of the SP Day and Night Spur. The tracks and crossing signs seen in the background were the Pacific Electric. Another block north and out of sight were the Santa Fe tracks. Santa Anita was called Double Drive at the time, and the normal southbound lanes are just visible to the left, but the convoy carrying Ellie, Andrews and Westley pass Warne in the northbound lane headed south. The trees in the center median, which was an equestrian path, were cut down in the 1950's.
Claudette Colbert, under contract to Paramount, had four weeks free, but she was also a hard sell. She'd made her first film, For the Love of Mike (1927), with Frank Capra directing, and it had been a disaster, so she was not excited about repeating the experience. What did excite her, however, was the prospect of making $50,000 for four weeks of work, since her Paramount salary was $25,000 per film. So she willingly agreed to do it, but, at the same time, she gave Capra a hard time.
According to Frank Capra in an interview with Richard Schickel for The Men Who Made the Movies: "We made the picture really quickly - four weeks. We stumbled through it, we laughed our way through it. And this goes to show you how much luck and timing and being in the right place at the right time means in show business: how sometimes no preparation at all is better than all the preparation in the world; and sometimes you need great preparation, but you can never outguess this thing called creativity. It happens in the strangest places and under the strangest of circumstances. I didn't much care for the picture, ] it turned out to be It Happened One Night."