Film and Food

Movies reviews with matching food – eat, watch, enjoy

Best Picture – It Happened One Night (1934)

Starring Clark Gable & Claudette Colbert

Rating 4/10

Now we’re cooking, a star that I recognise! Oh yes, this is Clark Gable at his most ‘smoldering’ with his dainty moustache and twinkly eyes. Watch out ladies!

It begins on a boat with a young lady being held hostage by her wealthy father. Ellen Andrews (Colbert) has defied her papa and eloped with a famous aviator, “King” Westley (Jameson Thomas), then her father locks her up on the boat and she embarks on a hunger strike. Somehow Ellen escapes (via the ocean) and heads to New York City incognito on a rowdy bus. Here she meets the smoldering reporter, Peter Warne (Gable) and love is in thy air!

Drama ensues with missed buses, stolen bags, cars and broken buses and  bridges, requiring them to share accommodation on more than one occasion.  In the name of decency, Warne builds a ‘Wall of Jericho’; a rope and blanket combination for the sake of privacy. This device is used at the end of the film to imply a consummation of marriage. Nice subtlety there!

One of my favourite moments happens in the famous hitchhiking scene where Warne boasts that he can stop the first car that comes along. Fail!!! So, after the fifteenth car, the socialite, Andrews, pops off the fence, saunters to the side of the road and sticks out her leg and lifts her skirt. The car skids to a halt. Then she proudly says it just proves that, “the limb is mightier than the thumb”. Haughty so and so!

Tears, misunderstandings and a father’s intervention bring up the rear of the film, building to a satisfying crescendo. This movie was good, but was it Oscar-worthy?

I must say that I did not like Gable’s character, not one bit. I know it is the time, the culture blah, blah, blah but he was simply awful to dear Ellen. He patronised her, slapped her, told her to “shut up” and was totally misogynistic. He was trying to bring her down a peg or two as he thought she was a spoilt brat but I think he was the one that was acting up. Dude, take a chill pill.

Overall, this film was ok. Not brilliant. I liked the story and the ending but did it deserve an Oscar? Hmmmm. It is hard to judge these old films as we have come so far in our technology and writing. Judge it for yourself and let me know what you think.

It Happened One Night Trivia:

  • Budget – $325,000 (est)
  • A few scenes from this film have infiltrated our popular culture. The hitchhiking scene has been satirised by Laurel and Hardy (Way out West) and a Bollywood film (Chori, Chori); Spaceballs referenced the wedding scene,Bruce Willis uses the ‘Wall of Jericho’ device in Bandits and the film is watched by Carrie and Mr. Big in Sex and the City 2.
  • It Happened One Night was the first film to win all 5 major Oscars including: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress & Best Writing).
  • The role of Ellen was passed on by seven actresses before Colbert finally won the gig. Both Gable and Colbert nearly turned down the roles as they were unhappy with the script. But hey and ho they soldiered on and here it is!
  • When filming was finished, Colbert allegedly said, “I just finished the worst picture in the world.” And then she won an Oscar for it!

I wouldn’t say it was the worst Best Picture film yet, but not as funny or meaningful as it promises. So, what is next for our fearless Oscar Club? Ah ha. Next week we sail the seven seas with the cracker of a film, The Mutiny on the Bounty with Charles Laughton and our favourite moustachio, Clark Gable. It Gable-fest, 2010!!

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2 comments on “Best Picture – It Happened One Night (1934)

  1. ianthecool
    October 3, 2010

    I thought it was brilliant, though if you didn’t like the character, its hard to like the film. That’s how I feel about many classic films; I can’t get into them because of the characters. Raging Bull is a good example of this.

  2. Kaye
    September 27, 2010

    Cool thanks for the link I will watch it this week:) Looks interesting

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