Friday, August 23, 2013

Friday Favorite- It Happened One Night

Hello all, I think I've come up with a way to keep me blogging.  I thought it'd be interesting to do a fun weekly 'column.'  I decided to start with something fairly easy, but still enjoyable.  I decided to do a weekly post called Friday Favorite and it will be an in-depth, informational and hopefully enjoyable post about one of my all time favorite movies.  I think I've mentioned before that I am not the best when it comes to top 10 lists, so that makes it possible for this series to go on for many, many weeks.  I also think it will be fun for me to revisit some old favorites.  So let's dive right in.

For the first film in my Friday Favorites series I chose the 1934 film,  It Happened One Night.  Seems like a fitting favorite since it was the first movie to win all five Academy Awards in the major categories (Best Picture, Director- Frank Capra, Actor- Clark Gable, Actress- Claudette Colbert and Screenplay-Robert Riskin).  I first watched this movie the weekend of my 24th birthday and I just found this IM conversation with one of my best friends and it makes me laugh, so I thought I'd share it here:

Excerpt from a Chat Transcript from 11/13/06me: oh! so i watched the best movie on saturday S: what was it?
 me: it was so cute, and made me fall in love with clark gable
  it's called, 'It Happened One Night'
 S: I've seen that!
  I LOVE that movie!
 me: you have?!
10:37 AM omg, i loved it too!
  like so much
 S: yep, we watched it in 190
 me: oh fun!!!
  it's a great movie, clark gable is so awesome and the sexual tension RULES
 S: yeah, I was quite pleased with it
  yeah it does :)
 me: in the haystacks, i literally clasped my hands and went 'oh my'
 S: haha, of course you did!
 me: and then i realized i had done so, and was embarrassed for myself
10:38 AM S: no need to be embarrassed about that! It's fun reacting to movies
 me: yeah i guess it's a sign of a good movie
  i wanted him to kiss her!
10:39 AM in 190 did you guys talk about why there was no final scene of clark gable and claudette colbert together?
10:42 AM S: I don't remember actually
  sorry, but I can call Casper if you want
 me: oh yes please
  oh just cause i thought it was interesting that there was no like final embrace
10:43 AM but i did like that the wall of jericho came down
10:44 AM S: yeah, I think I'm going to need to watch it again apparently
 me: yeah!! you should
 S: all I remember is really enjoying it 
oh my!
So, as you can see I very much enjoyed the movie from the get-go.  I don't remember clasping my own hands and swooning, but that definitely sounds like something I would do.  Now all these years later it still sits firmly on my favorites list.  I had a hard time passing it up at the last TCM Classic Film Festival, but I hope to someday get to see it on the big screen.  Initially I was drawn to this film for the romance factor and the opportunity for Clark Gable oogling.  But along with being a romance, this movie is a comedy, a travel story or road picture and a case of a reporter trying to get the exclusive, while wrestling with scruples. The general premise is that a spoiled heiress Elle Andrews (Claudette Colbert) runs away from her father to go to New York to be with the man she married, King Westley.  She crosses paths with a down on his luck, hot shot reporter Peter Warne (Clark Gable).  They end up having to rely on one another to reach their goals.  She- making it to New York with limited funds and while flying under the radar, He- getting the scoop he needs to get his job back.  And naturally along the way they fall in love.
I'd probably watch him sleep too
There are many hilarious exchanges, scenarios and supporting characters throughout the picture.  One scene that is very, very memorable occurs while the 2 leads are sharing a motel room, Clark Gable gets undressed for the night.  While filming it was discovered that it was either too cumbersome or it was taking too long for Gable to get through the lines and layers of clothes so they decided to omit his undershirt (scandalous for 1934! Oh my).  It's been said that the sales of mens undershirts plummeted.  If the King didn't wear undershirts then neither should the average man. 
Simply Scandalous!
Another interesting tidbit, the hitchhiking scene in the film where Gable is eating a carrot also inspired a very famous cartoon character, a carrot eating cartoon character....Bugs Bunny.   I've read conflicting information about this, but it would be interesting if it were true.
I see a slight resemblance
Favorite Witty Exchange:For some reason I get a real laugh out of the scene where Peter is carrying Elle across a little lake.  This is the exchange as he carries her:
Ellie: You know this is the first time in years I've ridden piggy-back.
Peter: This isn't piggy-back.
Ellie: Course it is.
Peter: You're crazy.
Ellie:  I remember distinctly my father taking me for a piggy-back ride.
Peter: And he carried you like this, I suppose?
Ellie: Yes
Peter: Your father didn't know beans about piggy-back riding.
Ellie: My uncle, mother's brother, has four children and I've seen them ride piggy-back.
Peter: I'll bet there isn't a good piggy-back rider in your whole family. I never knew a rich man yet who could piggy-back ride.
Ellie: You're prejudiced.
Peter: You show me a good piggy-backer and I'll show you a real human. Now you take Abraham Lincoln for instance. A natural born piggy-backer. Where do you get all of that stuffed-shirt family of yours?
Ellie: My father was a great piggy-backer.
Peter: Here, hold this.
And then he hands her the suitcase and gives her a little slap on the rear.  I don't condone physical violence, but the exchange is just really cute.
does that look like a piggy-back ride to you?
Favorite Supporting Character:  There are a bunch of ridiculous supporting characters, the 'Oh Yeah?' Bus Driver, Shapley the flirt and then there's my favorite, the singing driver.  After many attempts at hitchhiking Ellie proves that "the limb is mightier than the thumb."  And they get picked up by a gentleman who does not stop singing about everything, it's hilarious and when you think he's done, he is not, 'young people in love are seldom hungry' (I hope the clip works)

 Now some history! As many classic film fans know getting this movie together was no easy feat.  It's Hollywood legend that Clark Gable was sent to to Columbia for this movie as punishment for not following orders at his studio, MGM.  It's also been reported that Claudette Colbert was not the first choice nor did she want to be part of the film, other actresses considered for the role were Myrna Loy, Miriam Hopkins, Margaret Sullivan, Constance Bennet and Carole Lombard.  It's hard to imagine anyone other than Claudette Colbert in the role now. 

The DVD, which I promptly ordered 2 days after watching the movie for the first time, includes a handful of special features.  One of which is a conversation with Frank Capra Jr.  In that featurette he describes how is father got the inspiration for the movie from an article in Cosmopolitan.  That article was titled 'Night Bus.'  Frank Capra then asked Columbia to buy the story for him and they did, then Frank Capra and a writer Robert Riskin worked with the article to create the general premise for the film.  Frank Capra Jr. also notes that this role was not a typical Clark Gable role at the time and that his father, Frank Capra believed that Claudette Colbert was perfect for the role. Frank Capra and Robert Riskin actually went to Ms. Colbert's house to pitch her the story and the movie.  When they arrived she was all packed and getting ready to leave for a vacation the following day.  She was reluctant and didn't think she had the time in her schedule to shoot the picture, but would possibly have 4 weeks to film and requested double her usual salary.  Frank Capra then spoke to Harry Cohn and Columbia who questioned if it was possible to shoot the film in 4 weeks.  Frank Capra said it was possible and pretty much started filming in the next day or two.  According to Frank Capra Jr., Claudette Colbert complained every single day of shooting and when she completed the picture she said to her friends, "I've just finished the worst picture I've ever made in my life."  Frank Capra had to devise ways to make things simpler and within budget, which was about $325,000, with Ms. Colbert taking home $50,000.
The reception of the movie was initial pretty great and continued to get bigger through word of mouth, the audience really enjoyed the picture.  It was then recognized by the Academy with 5 nominations, just the nominations were quite an accomplishment for Columbia Pictures.  Frank Capra Jr.'s recollections are definitely interesting and insightful.  I would assume that his information comes from conversations with his father, which must have been really amazing to get straight from the source.  I think what makes this movie so lovable is that it doesn't take itself so seriously.  There is humor all over this film and there is a very sweet romance at the heart of the film.  Watching two characters grow and change is always enjoyable for moviewatchers.  It is very well written screenplay with well developed characters.  And eventhough the lead actors may have been reluctant, they did put in 'classic' performances and managed to 'tear down the walls of Jericho' 
This ended up being a pretty fun way to get me to blog and it was a really good excuse to revisit a favorite film.  Hope it was as enjoyable to read as it was to put together.  I'll try my best to keep this up on a weekly basis.  Tune in next week for another Friday Favorite!

See you next time!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Diane, We'd love to have you join us on the new TCM Classic Film Tour in NYC soon! Let us know if you are interested. Best, Lauren (