In honor of the 2015 Oscar nominations, tonight’s film is a landmark of cinema that deserves to be seen by all. Directed by the impeccable Frank Capra and released in 1934, It Happened One Night was the first film to win the Oscar Grand Slam, achieving awards for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actor, and Best Actress, all of which were absolutely deserved. I can’t even begin to describe how excited I was to find out this movie is available to stream on Amazon Prime Instant Video. This is the best road trip movie you’ll ever see.
The premise is simple, but Capra and screenwriter Robert Riskin create characters that are incredibly charming, irritating, and a complete pleasure to watch. Claudette Colbert turns in a marvelous performance as Ellie, a young disconsolate socialite on the run from an arranged marriage, who manages to run into Peter, an abrasive newspaper reporter, portrayed by a rather convincing Clark Gable.
Ellie and Peter become better acquainted with each other’s situation as the story progresses, and soon realize they couldn’t despise each other more if they tried. I’ll keep this edition short on the details because I firmly believe that the less you know about the film going in, the better. It Happened One Night is the paramount example of a screwball comedy, with arguments, deception, and sexual innuendo all presented and expertly performed by the cast. The dialogue is very fast-paced and a lot of fun, but it’s not so fast that you’ll miss any of the fantastic one-liners.
It Happened One Night is a romantic comedy, a road trip comedy, and a screwball comedy all rolled into one. Most importantly, it’s a classic, in every sense of the term. Its endearing characters, piercing romantic tension, and hilariously awkward situations are the likes of which may never again be so skillfully reproduced in Hollywood. I could write so much more about this film (and someday I will), but I would take greater satisfaction in having you experience it for yourself.
It Happened One Night (1934) Directed by Frank Capra
Amazon (Free streaming with Prime membership)
iTunes (Rent, Purchase)