It Happened One Night (1934)


To say that I dislike romantic comedy would be something of an understatement; or rather I dislike what it has become.

If you look back to the golden age of Hollywood, it is peppered with gems like this one, in which hard-drinking and cynical reporter Clark Gable ends up shadowing a runaway heiress to get the scoop that’ll put his career back on track. Yes, we all know what’s going to happen, but in this case it’s done with such charm and wit that it’s impossible not to like. Frank (It’s A Wonderful Life) Capra is a master of presenting an optimism and faith in the common man with a subtlety and sophistication that rarely descends into schmaltz. Claudette Colbert shimmers and is the epitome of 1930’s glamour and her chalk and cheese pairing with Gable’s gruff machismo works beautifully. The scene in which they share a motel room, sharing their feelings through a dividing blanket is a classic, as Gable’s heart finally melts despite his distaste at her over-privileged background. But Capra’s optimism even extends to the wealthy, showing her ostentatious father is also just a man whose love for his daughter is his greatest concern.

It’s a delightful film and along with the likes of Philadelphia Story and His Girl Friday, it is one of the greats of romantic comedy.


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