I love the Academy Awards and last year I realized how few of the “Best Picture” winners I’d actually seen. So I made it a goal to see all 83 winners and blog my thoughts about them along the way.

Why did it win? Should another movie have won instead? Has it become a beloved classic or do many of you not even recognize the title? I invite you, my friends and guests, to comment along with me. Do you agree/disagree? I should be fair and place a SPOLIER ALERT on this blog since I’ll be writing about various parts of the movie. So read at your own risk…

I have often told people that I have movie amnesia… I can see a movie and forget all about it years later. So for that reason, I am re-watching the 27 I’ve seen before. That said, if no one visits or reads my blog and I basically perform the online equivalent of talking to a brick wall, that’s fine; if for nothing else, it’ll be my own reminder. Enjoy!

And the Oscar goes to…


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

It Happened One Night, 1934











Not Rated

This is the first time I’ve seen Oscar’s first romantic comedy winner, “It Happened One Night” and I LOVED it! This movie is a backwards Cinderella story where the lead female Ellie, played by Claudette Colbert, is a runaway heiress who ends up falling for a recently-fired newspaper reporter Peter, played by the charmingly handsome Clark Gable. Their clashing personalities and backgrounds make for entertaining comedy. Peter assures Ellie that he isn’t interested in her at all, but I didn’t buy it for a second. The two actors have great chemistry and the script is fantastically witty. It hooked me immediately.

A crush I never knew I had materialized for the darling Clark Gable. I have a thing for dimples (as evidenced in the three males in my family). There was something about him/his acting/his character that had me captivated. Even when he refers to Ellie by his pet-name for her (“Brat”), I was smiling.

I personally think men’s fashion in the thirties had a sexy sophistication about it. However, when Gable starts to undress in a scene, he reveals that under his jacket and vest, his pants are practically pulled up to his nipples. Don’t ask me why suspenders are still needed, but apparently they were. (My new crush still pulled it off though. And supposedly sales of undershirts went down after this movie since Gable takes of his dress shirt to reveal his bare chest.) This is just before he snuggles up in bed and smokes a cigarette. Ahh… nothing like the taste of nicotine to soothe you to sleep.

Peter teases Ellie in a scene accusing her of being scared of him. He sings the first two lines of “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?” I thought this was very interesting, because as a Disney-buff, I know that this song was written just the year before for the famous cartoon short with the three little pigs. It was immediately a HUGE success and the song became a “theme song” so to speak during the Depression. The wolf symbolized the stock market crash and subsequent economic crisis and the sing-songy lyrics lifted the spirits of audiences. I wonder if Columbia Studios had to pay royalties…

This movie did surprisingly well at the box office. Nobody expected much from it. Even Colbert walked away from filming and said, “I just made the worst picture in the world”. Perhaps Columbia Studios didn’t give the film enough credit for its ability to take audiences out of the sobering reality of the Great Depression and transport them to a time and place where love can triumph over socio-economic status. Yes, this movie was juxtaposed with the epics and dramas that were expected to be produced, but obviously, it was what the average citizen needed to see during this time of financial hardship. It did so well that it won the top 5 coveted Academy Awards that year: Best Picture, Best Director (Frank Capra, who directed one of my all-time faves “It’s a Wonderful Life”), Best Actor (my new crush), Best Actress, and Best Adaptation. It is rare that this happens for a film and it didn’t happen again until 1975 and again in 1991.

It was up against “The Barretts of Wimpole Street”, “Flirtation Walk”, “Cleopatra”, “The Thin Man”, “The Gay Divorcee”, “Here Comes the Navy”, “The House of Rothschild”, “Imitation of Life”, “One Night of Love”, “Viva Villa!”, and “The White Parade”, none of which I’ve seen. (Although I’ve wanted to see “Cleopatra”… I’ll have to save it for next year.)

I’m a little puzzled as to why it’s called “It Happened One Night”… I guess their chance meeting on a bus happened one night, but their relationship transformed over the course of a few days and nights. Maybe it should’ve been “It Happened One Weekend”. But really, my one and only BIG critique… we never get to see Peter and Ellie kiss!  

FAVORITE SCENES:

In order not to be caught, Peter and Ellie have to act like a feuding married couple when detectives come into their bungalow for a search of the missing Ellie Andrews. They later refer to their little act as “The Great Deception”. They put on such a dramatic performance; it had me laughing out loud. When Peter  yells at his ‘wife’, “Quit bawlin’!”, I almost peed my pants.


Another great scene was when Peter was teaching Ellie how to hitch-hike. After some unsuccessful attempts, Ellie decides to give it a try her way…

(Colbert didn’t want to do this scene since it was so racy, but when she saw her leg double, she demanded she do it herself.)

And lastly, this little scene was near the beginning. Ellie falls asleep on Peter during their bus ride(which she is much embarrassed about when she wakes up). The look on Gable’s face had me swooning. He is simply adorable.


LESSONS LEARNED:

Money can’t buy you happiness. This is an obvious and over-used cliché, but I think it’s true. Pursue your true happiness. It’s likely to be something you can’t buy.

Practice humility. Peter warns Ellie to practice humility and not assume that everyone/everything can be bought. Use manners and be sincere.

1 comment:

  1. I'd like to see it. When I watch it I'll try to figure out the title...that's odd. Again, I wish this was on Netflix instant stream.

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