“Your ego is absolutely colossal.”
“Yeah, yeah, not bad. How’s yours?”
We can thank Frank Capra for inaugurating the art of romantic comedy after IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT opened eighty years ago in February 1934. In this finer side of screwball road films, Claudette Colbert plays Ellen Andrews, a sheltered heiress who runs away from her father after a disagreement over her rushed elopement with a pilot named King. The trials and tribulations of “real” love sets in for Andrews, as she finds that in order to reunite with her beloved King, she must travel from Miami to New York without falling in the grasps of her father’s detectives or anyone who is in dire need of the $10,000 reward for returning her. It may also seem in her disfavor that her only heroic companion in these troubling traveling times is recently-fired newspaper writer/full-time sharp-tongued scoundrel Frank Warne, played by Clark Gable. Together, they tackle on the highs and lows (mostly lows with a great high at the end) of irritating passengers, irritating each other, and the irritating real world.
The main leads’ timed bickering and lively dedication to their lines is nothing short of awe, especially since Colbert and Gable had shared conflicting views with Capra’s script. (In the famous hitchhiking scene, Colbert initially declined to partake in it until she saw the leg of her body double and said, “Get her out of here. I’ll do it. That’s not my leg!”) However, the final product, which had swept the box office with a $2 million hand and the Academy Awards, probably turned out to be more of a pleasant surprise to the cast and studio than it was for the audience. You can catch the film in Somerville Theatre’s SCREWBALL DOUBLE FEATURE with Howard Hawks’ HIS GIRL FRIDAY this Sunday on 2 PM and 6 PM.
IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT (1934) DIR. FRANK CAPRA
Sunday 3/30 2 PM & 6 PM
55 Davis Square
Somerville, MA 02144