Monday, July 12, 2010

It Happened One Night (1934)

It Happened One Night (1934) is one of the best Oscar winners I’ve watched so far. The film had one key ingredient that modern day Academy Award winners don’t – comedy. This movie had me laughing, smiling, and humming along to some silly songs throughout the entire 105 minutes. I actually had fun watching it. If all the Oscar winners were this good, I wouldn’t be dreading having to watch a quarter of the list.

So here’s the gist of it:

Ellie Andrews is a spoiled heiress who is being held against her will on her father’s yacht. He’s ticked because she went behind his back and married an aviator with the name of King Westley (again another old film with strange names…makes me wonder what viewers will think of names like Aiden and Brittany). Anyway, Ellie’s father has had the marriage annulled and this pisses Ellie off to the point of throwing herself overboard. She swims ashore and begins her trek from Miami to New York City. Her father hires a detective agency and offers $10,000 for Ellie’s return to him. She pawns her watch and purchases a bus ticket where she meets Peter Warne, one of my most favorite male characters of all time. He’s a newspaper writer who is down on his luck. Ellie’s purse is stolen, so she becomes dependent on Warne, who is planning to use her for the $10,000 reward. After a few hilarious nights together (including a lesson on how to properly dunk a doughnut that is so charming you won’t forget it) Ellie falls in love with Warne. It takes awhile for him to come around, but the two end up together with the blessing of Ellie’s father. King ends up with nothing, which is fine by me because King is a stupid name.

The most memorable portion of the movie involves the Wall of Jericho. When Warne and Ellie are forced to spend the night together in the same motel room Warne hangs a blanket between their two beds calling it the “Wall of Jericho”. When the two are married they return to a motel and blow a toy trumpet, tearing down the Wall of Jericho. It may sound cheesy, but I LOVED it! They just don’t make movies with this kind of charm anymore.

Here's the trailer.  It really gives you a glimpse into the charm of this film.

This is AFI's 35th Best Film of All Time, out of 100.

Peter Warne is played expertly by Clark Gable, who I’ve never seen in anything except Gone With The Wind, but I will definitely seek out more of his films. He won the Best Actor Oscar for this role and it was well deserved. Claudette Colbert won the Best Actress Oscar for her portrayal of Ellie, but didn’t expect to win. When she found out that she did win, she was at a train station and went to the ceremony in a traveling pant suit (I have no idea what a traveling pant suit is). Anyway, both awards were well deserved.

Watch this on a down day and I promise it will pick you up like a dose of Xanex.

I’ll give it five statuettes, my first perfect score!  I’ll definitely be watching this one again.

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