11 December 2003 | FilmOtaku
A cute romantic comedy that was a pioneer of its genre
It Happened One Night is one of those films that is so classic, and on so many `must-see' lists that I actually assumed that I had seen it at one time or another. It wasn't until I actually looked into the film when I in fact realized I hadn't.
The first film to sweep the major categories in an Oscar ceremony, It Happened One Night spins the story of a young spoiled heiress (Colbert) who marries a shallow, yet dashing aviator. She is then swept off by her father who takes her on a cruise; convinced that time away from each other will cure her infatuation. Instead, she escapes by jumping out of the boat and swimming to shore where she begins her journey from Miami to New York, where her husband awaits. The film quickly turns into an `on the road' flick at this point when she meets up with Clark Gable, a down on his luck reporter who offers to help her for the exclusive rights to her story. Mayhem inevitably ensues as one thing after another goes wrong during their adventure.
I'm a little hesitant to completely agree with the general assessment that It Happened One Night is a screwball comedy. Of course, there were certain moments that were hilarious and overdone (the scene when Gable and Colbert pose as husband and wife to share a cabin for the night is absolutely rich) but the majority of the remaining film is clever romantic comedy with fairly even performances by the principles. Perhaps there is a sliding scale for screwball comedies, with It Happened One Night being a two and a film that I feel personifies the genre, Bringing up Baby, as a five.
Whatever its classification, It Happened One Night is a charming film that backs up its merit as a multiple Oscar winner. It is one of those films that may not be completely profound or deep, but is important nonetheless if anything, for its place in film history.