SVS: “It Happened One Night”

SVS: “It Happened One Night” February 13, 2015


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!

Today’s Streaming Video Suggestion (SVS) is one that I’ve had in draft form for several months now in the desperate hope that it would eventually appear on a streaming platform so that I could recommend it. I suppose it’s maybe a teeny-tiny, barely, sort-of-Valentine’s Day-ish if you squint just right…

OK, not really. But work with me here, OK? It’s not as bad as last time. Mostly, I’m recommending it because it’s hilarious.

It’s Frank Capra’s It Happened One Night, streaming on AMAZON PRIME and available from AMAZON INSTANT($), YOUTUBE($), and some others:

Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert team up for laughs as mismatched lovers in this 1934 screwball comedy classic. Spoiled Ellie Andrews (Colbert) escapes from her millionaire father (Walter Connolly),who wants to stop her from marrying a worthless playboy. En route to New York, Ellie gets involved with an out-of-work newsman, Peter Warne (Gable). When their bus breaks down, the bickering couple set off on a madcap hitchhiking expedition. …But complications fly when the runaway heiress and brash reporter fall in love.

Some trivial trifles:

It’s one of the Big Fives.

Only three films have won what is known as Oscar’s Big Five: Picture, Actor, Actress, Director, and Screenplay. The first was the 1934 comedy It Happened One Night. It didn’t happen again until 41 years later, when the 1975 mental hospital-set drama One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest achieved the feat. Most recently, the Big Five were awarded to the 1991 thriller The Silence of the Lambs.

ItHappened3It’s one of the Clean Sweeps.

Only five Best Picture winners have won every award for which they were nominated (Grand Hotel was a ‘clean sweep’ at one for one, followed by 1034’s It Happened One Night at five for five; the next two were nine for nine, and LOTR was 11 for 11; except for the 1934 film, none of the films were nominated for acting awards):

See? The little Golden Guy can sometime get things right. Because Capra’s film deserved every dollop of praise it got at the time. (And deserves every bit of praise it gets, even now.)

It is also Criterion, which means you can get a spectacularly crisp Blu-ray version, and of special features. Like the “Three Reasons” clip above. Or this video:

Or this essay, from Stephen Winer.

And here’s another sure thing: as long as there are roads in this country that lead to someplace more interesting than one more fast-food joint, you will find road comediesMeet me in that little diner off Route 66 for a cup of joe and we can talk about your favorites. And bring a runaway heiress with you.

Or this one, by Farran Smith Nehme.

How It Happened One Night made it to Oscar night is a Capra movie in itself, a tale of moxie at a low-rent studio and moneyed stars who learned the virtues of roughing it. For once, it’s safe to print the legend: Almost no one wanted to make this movie. No one, that is, except Capra, who pulled Samuel Hopkins Adams’s short story “Night Bus” from a file of possibilities. Even so, according to Capra biographer Joseph McBride, it wasn’t love at first sight. Riskin recalled Capra describing the plot to him: “It’s about a runaway couple.” Riskin responded, “Sounds cute.” Capra then pondered it alone in his office and popped back out to tell Riskin they’d do it. Riskin had already forgotten which story they were talking about.

Also, and perhaps most importantly of all, it inspired Buggy Bunny.

How do you like that legacy?


Attribution(s): All posters, publicity images, and movie stills are the property of Columbia/Sony Pictures and other respective production studios and distributors, and are intended for editorial use only.

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