It Happened One Night (1934)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Romantic Comedy, Screwball Comedy, Road Movie  |   Run Time - 105 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Lucia Bozzola

Scripted by Capra's frequent collaborator Robert Riskin, Frank Capra's It Happened One Night (1934) became the prototypical screwball comedy and elevated Columbia Pictures from Poverty Row status to respectable "major minor" studio. Starring Clark Gable, on loan from MGM as punishment, and Claudette Colbert, on loan from Paramount for twice her usual pay, Capra's and Riskin's comic romance between a down-to-earth newspaper reporter and a spoiled runaway heiress set the standard for screwball. Its fast-paced repartee, kooky heroine, witty gags, and class-crossing love story became hallmarks of the genre in such later films as My Man Godfrey (1936) and Bringing Up Baby (1938); the overt lustiness barred by the 1934 Production Code was transmuted into clever banter and the romance conveyed an ideal Depression-era fantasy. A critical and commercial hit, It Happened One Night was the first film to sweep the top five Oscars, rewarding Capra, Riskin, Gable, and Colbert, and fulfilling Columbia impresario Harry Cohn's desire to turn his B-studio into a class act. Undershirt sales reportedly plummeted when Gable revealed on screen that he wasn't wearing one.