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It Happened One Night (1934)

Not Rated | | Comedy, Romance | 22 February 1934 (USA)
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A spoiled heiress running away from her family is helped by a man who is actually a reporter in need of a story.

Director:

Frank Capra

Writers:

Robert Riskin (screen play), Samuel Hopkins Adams (based on the short story by)
Top Rated Movies #185 | Won 5 Oscars. Another 5 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Clark Gable ... Peter
Claudette Colbert ... Ellie
Walter Connolly ... Andrews
Roscoe Karns ... Shapeley
Jameson Thomas ... Westley
Alan Hale ... Danker
Arthur Hoyt ... Zeke
Blanche Friderici ... Zeke's Wife
Charles C. Wilson ... Gordon
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Storyline

Ellie Andrews has just tied the knot with society aviator King Westley when she is whisked away to her father's yacht and out of King's clutches. Ellie jumps ship and eventually winds up on a bus headed back to her husband. Reluctantly she must accept the help of out-of- work reporter Peter Warne. Actually, Warne doesn't give her any choice: either she sticks with him until he gets her back to her husband, or he'll blow the whistle on Ellie to her father. Either way, Peter gets what (he thinks!) he wants .... a really juicy newspaper story. Written by A.L.Beneteau <albl@inforamp.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Together for the first time! See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Romance

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

22 February 1934 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Night Bus See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$325,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$4,360,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (cut TV)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Noiseless Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

It Happened One Night (1934) became the first film to perform a "clean sweep" of the top five Academy Award categories, known as the Oscar "grand slam": Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Screenplay. This feat would later be duplicated by One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) in 1976 and The Silence of the Lambs (1991) in 1992. However, It Happened One Night is the only one not nominated in any other category. See more »

Goofs

During early portion of Walls of Jericho scene, blanket hanging from rope is nowhere near rear wall, allowing views into both beds. Moments later, when Ellie considers jumping out window on her side, curtain is flush with wall. See more »

Quotes

Ellie Andrews: What is it that we're supposed to be doing again?
Peter Warne: Hitchhiking.
Ellie Andrews: Well you've shown me an excellent example of the hiking part. When does the hitching come in?
See more »

Connections

Featured in Sex, Censorship and the Silver Screen: Censored (1996) See more »

Soundtracks

Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf
(uncredited)
Written by Frank Churchill and Ann Ronell
Sung a cappella by Clark Gable
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Introducing... the Screwball Comedy
23 June 2002 | by comix-manSee all my reviews

Frank Capra's idealistic outlook on life is evident in his films. From It Happened One Night to It's a Wonderful Life, Capra has always had a tendency to let the little guy rise above it all and beat the odds. It is no small wonder that Capra enjoyed much of his success during the Depression, when movies were used to truly pull an audience out of the despair of the 1930s into a world where anything can happen, where being a nice person is all you need to succeed. While the fact that the country was in the middle of the Depression was not completely ignored, an overly optimistic view on life was taken to counter the despair of everyday life.

There were many points in It Happened One Night where the true state of the country was indicated. Homeless people hitching rides on trains seemed perfectly normal. Rather than regard them with apprehension and pity, you smile and wave at them. Another example is the hostile reaction proprietor Zeke's wife had to the fact that her husband had let Peter and Ellie stay the night with promises of being paid. Upon seeing Peter and Ellie's car missing, they rush to the cottage to see if Peter and Ellie are still there. They cannot afford freeloaders.

In another scene, a child's mother has passed out from hunger, because they have no money to buy food. Peter and Ellie have nearly depleted their funds, but decide that the mother and child need money more than they do and give some to them.

Despite these instances, the movie was altogether cheerful in its depiction of the world. In the throes of the stock market crash, this movie signaled the birth of the screwball comedy. At a time when the country needed release, they could find that release and laughter in movies like It Happened One Night. Audiences were amused by scenes in the film, such as the segment in which Peter teaches Ellie how to dunk a donut. Or, when forced to share a room, Peter puts a blanket between his and Ellie's beds and calls it the `wall of Jericho,' which is revisited when the walls of Jericho come tumbling down after Peter and Ellie's marriage. Probably the most famous scene in the film is the hitchhiking sequence, which features Peter standing by the roadside trying to thumb a ride unsuccessfully, finally giving up after more than a dozen cars speed by without paying any heed to his attempts. After he gives up, beaten, Ellie simply lifts her skirt above her knee. The first car that passes stops, as we see extreme close-ups of a foot slamming down on the brakes and a hand applying the hand brake.

A master in his profession, Capra left his mark on the films he directed. With an almost childlike cheerfulness, he maintains a sense of dignity and class. The viewer is left with a feeling of hope for humankind, even if its only that a person's ideals could be used to make such a film. Capra's films are still regarded as masterpieces. It Happened One Night arguably remains to this day unparalleled in screwball comedies. It was one of many movies made during the Depression, a sometimes sad and even lonely time in our history. It gave its audience a chance to escape and forget their troubles for a few moments in time.

9 out of 10 stars


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