Friday, April 6, 2007

It Happened One Night

It Happened One Night; romantic comedy, USA, 1934; D: Frank Capra, S: Clark Gable, Claudette Colbert, Walter Connolly, Roscoe Karns, Jameson Thomas
Ellen Andrews, a spoiled girl, gets angry at her rich father who doesn't like that she has fallen for King Westley, a notorious womanizer. After a huge argument, she jumps off a ship and gets away by swimming to the land, while her worried father organizes a search for her. In Florida, Ellen boards a bus to New York, whereas among the passengers is also a report, Peter, who quickly recognizes her. He decides to help her in her getaway to her lover Westley if she sells her story exclusively to him. On their journey they get into a lot of trouble, but fall in love. Because of a misunderstanding in a motel, they break up. Ellen returns to her father but just as she was about to marry Westley, she runs away and marries Peter instead.

A magnificent masterpiece, one of the best movies of all time, "It Happened One Night" confirmed that the best stories are sometimes the simplest ones. The entire road movie concept in this romantic comedy is completely unspectacular, gentle, understated and relaxed, but it is still somehow at the same time very fascinating to watch and very intelligent thanks to the humanity by the director Frank Capra and writer Robert Riskin, who here reached their career zenith. Unlike semi-successful comedies from the same period, like "Cain and Mabel" or "The Shop Around The Corner", "One Night" has elementary human emotions, creating a golden blend of comedy and pathos, like in the scene in the motel where Ellen and Peter are lying in their beds in dark and talking, or when, near the end, Ellen suddenly loses her control and admits to Peter that she loves him, surprising him. There are so many emotions that they even overshadow many other melodramas, but that doesn't mean that the touching story does not have a lot of funny moments: in one scene, a thief steals a suitcase from Ellen behind her back, who does not even notice it. Peter sees that and runs after him, but Ellen still doesn't turn around. After some time Peter returns all tired and says: "He got away!", while the oblivious Ellen replies: "I don't know what you're talking about!" The sometimes naughty humorous moments were incorporated into the romance with ease and the concept about a guy and girl who fight but in the end fall in love has been copied through thousands of other films, still remaining fresh here. The only weak thing is the end, but by that time it is already too late because the film already left an enchanting impression.



Anonymous said...

Late Night Movie Critic?

Marin Mandir said...

No, I'm just in a different time zone. I'm writing from Europe.