Customer Reviews: It Happened One Night
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on January 15, 2000
More than six decades after its original release, "It Happened One Night" still sparkles like a newly minted coin. It's romantic, witty, sophisticated ... and certain key scenes (especially Clark Gable's gangster impression and Claudette Colbert's hitch-hiking lesson) remain laugh-out-loud funny. A near perfect blend of script, direction, and performance, it deservedly swept the top five 1934 Academy Awards. One statue that it wasn't even nominated for, and should have won, was for Joseph Walker's Cinematography; his masterful camerawork makes this movie glisten and shine.
The DVD transfer is amazingly beautiful. There are a few shots that appear to be slightly grainy and one or two jumps in the soundtrack, but those are minor quibbles. I've watched this film several times over the past twenty years -- in a revival theatre, on satellite, and on VHS -- and it's never looked as good as it does here. The DVD extras are icing on the cake: trailers for this film and "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington"; the teaser for "Lost Horizon"; a filmed commentary by Frank Capra, Jr.; and the 1939 Lux Theatre radio broadcast of the story. I especially enjoyed the advertising archive section, which included color reproductions of the original one-sheet posters and lobby cards. Overall, this disc is a great example of the DVD format at its finest, and a most worthy presentation of a genuine Hollywood classic.
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on June 25, 2000
I don't claim be a movie expert, but this is the best film I have ever seen. I already owned a VHS copy, but on buying a DVD player I paid good money to have this disc shipped to me in England - and boy was it worth it! The picture quality is as good as you will find anywhere and the sound is superb too. The DVD is also jam-packed with extra features. The film's commentary is provided by Frank Capra Jr. He has a wonderfully relaxed style and doesn't just sound as if he's reading from a prepared script. Along with Ron Howard's commentary for Apollo 13, this is the best DVD commentary I have heard to date. A special feature unique amongst DVDs must be the radio version of 'It Happened One Night', first broadcast in 1939, again starring Claudette Colbert and Clark Gable. Whoever had the idea of including this on the DVD deserves a salary rise. The disc also includes trailers, cast lists, some beautifully illustrated posters and also a Frank Capra Jr introduction. This really is an extremely impressive package of Frank Capra's masterpiece.
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IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT is a picture with a fascinating cinematic history (no one except Frank Capra wanted to make it, Gable & Colbert included, and no one thought it would hit or win Oscars, any Oscars -- until it did). It's also one of the few films I've ever seen that is literally without a single dull moment in it --surely a rarity, even in the most expensive films (and this one cost all of $375,000 to make in 1934).

The spoiled runaway heiress who finds true love with the down-to-earth newspaper reporter isn't the most original idea in movies -- but what Capra, Riskin (the writer), Gable & Colbert do with it is beyond priceless. Among other highlights in this thoroughly delightful film are the scene where Gable singlehandedly destroyed the men's undershirt industry by revealing a bare chest while undressing; Gable's argument with a bus driver; the scene already mentioned by other reviewers of Colbert's unique method of stopping a car after Gable, who claims to be a hitchhiking expert, has failed miserably; the breakfast scene in which Gable teaches Colbert how to dunk a doughnut properly; the falling-over funny scene of Gable & Colbert impersonating a brawling married couple to outwit her father's detectives; and the scene where he lectures her about piggyback riding and the virtues of the common man while carrying her across a stream. (But I must confess my favorite scene is probably Gable's argument with Colbert's father at the end of the film. When her father finally nails him down and says, "Do you love her?", Gable, after evading the question, finally answers, "Yes! But don't hold that against me, I'm a little screwy myself!")

Gable's performance here is simply his very best after GONE WITH THE WIND. There couldn't have been any close contenders for the Best-Actor Oscar that year; Gable simply walks off with the movie, in rollicking fashion, and it is abundantly clear while watching him exactly why women found him the Sexiest Man Alive (at that time, and for many years afterward). Even seventy years later, and more than 40 years after his death, he's still a heartbreaker here. He's funny and playful and tender and strong ... whew! It's a tragedy that current generations know so little about him and his remarkable career -- but they will get more than their fill of his very potent charm in this picture.

Colbert plays a fairly thankless part with great elegance and sophistication. While acting spoiled and bored and rebellious, she's also charming, funny and perfectly unimpressed with Gable's antics -- right up to the moment when she realizes she's in love with him.

All the supporting players (all studio actors) are wonderful, too, even in this essentially two-person movie. The guy playing Oscar Shapeley, the conceited suburban bore, was a Best Supporting Actor shoo-in -- wonder why HE didn't win that year, too? And the roles of Colbert's father and Gable's editor were beautifully filled. No one phoned in their work on this movie; every performance and nuance is a gem.

IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT, after seventy years, is as fresh and funny as though it were made yesterday -- my nine-year-old and six-year-old sons both adore it, too.

Classic doesn't always mean boring. Sometimes -- as in this case -- classic means timeless. IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT will be funny in this century and the next century and every century where men and women meet and fall in love.
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on February 29, 2000
More than any movie from the 1930s, this Frank Capra film has not dated at all. In spite of 60 plus years of "romantic comedies" which have followed "It Happened One Night," it remains fresh and laugh-out-loud funny. Clark Gable is at his most charming as the scheming newspaper reporter who hopes to get the inside scoop on the "brat," played beautifully by Claudette Colbert, who is on the run from her millionaire father. This Frank Capra films still makes us laugh because he so humorously shows us that while men and women are different, for some reason they can't live without one another even though they can, as here, drive each other crazy. The hitchhiking scene and the scene where Gable and Colbert pretend they are married are timeless classics. Columbia Classics has done a wonderful job of presenting the best print we can probably expect 60 years on. The disc also contains a commentary from Capra's son, Frank Capra, Jr. and a "remembrance" of the film. I cannot recommend this movie enough.
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on November 18, 2014
"I just finished the worst picture in the world!" Claudette Colbert told a friend while preparing for her vacation. She was talking about "It Happened One Night"(1934) and although she didn't think much of the picture or it's director(Frank Capra), of all the films she made during her career it's the one she is most associated with. Her role as the spoiled heiress Ellen Andrews won her the Best Actress Oscar in 1934 and the film itself is now considered a classic. Just in time for it's 80th Anniversary, Criterion has now brought this romantic comedy to Blu-ray for the first time and it has never looked better. According to the liner notes: ""This new digital transfer was created in 4K resolution from a 35 mm safety composite fine-grain made from the original nitrate negative and a 35 mm nitrate print." Those who own the standard DVD from the "Frank Capra Collection" from 2006 will notice a difference in the picture quality as it is much brighter with a pleasing contrast throughout. Despite an extensive restoration by Sony(who owns the Columbia catalog) in 2013, there are still some scenes and frames where the elements show some fading with visible grain present. This is understandable for a film that's 80 years old. However, there are no vertical lines, dirt, white specks or torn frames and the majority of the film looks excellent and nearly pristine. Criterion has given "It Happened One Night" a bitrate of 24.11 and the cinematography by Joseph Walker is really highlighted now in Blu-ray. This is very noticeable in the daylight scenes. The newspaper headlines that appear throughout the film are very easy to read and you can easily see the costumes, sets and other props compared to the standard DVD. The audio(LMCM English Mono) has been improved also. Again from the liner notes: "The original monaural soundtrack was remastered at 24-bit from the original nitrate optical soundtrack and a 35 mm nitrate print." Almost everyone who's seen the film knows the story so I won't go over it except to say that although both Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert didn't think much of it at the time they have a great chemistry whenever they're on screen together(Opposites attract). Even though it's a romantic comedy, Capra and writer Robert Riskin do make some comments on the Depression and it's affect on people in the scene in which a mother faints from malnutrition having spent all her money on the bus fare for her and her son. Even after 80 years, this is a powerful scene. "It Happened One Night" is 105 minutes(Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1) and only contains the following subtitle: English SDH. Criterion has added a lot of special features. There is a documentary on Frank Capra from 1997 about the director's life and career as well as the American Film Institute tribute from 1982. Also included is a new digital transfer of Capra's first film, the 1921 silent short "Fultah Fisher's Broarding House." Also included are commentaries from film critics Molly Haskell and Phillip Lopate as well as an interview with Frank Capra Jr. "It Happened One Night" is a classic American film from one of the great directors in cinema. Now that it's been given the Criterion treatment it should be essential to any film collector's library and comes very highly recommended.
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HALL OF FAMEon February 18, 2002
IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT is still regarded as one of the best comedies ever made, thanks to the superb performances of Claudette Colbert and Clark Gable and the faultless direction of Frank Capra.
Based on the short story "Night Bus" by Samuel Hopkins Adams, the story concerns spoiled heiress Ellie Andrews (Claudette Colbert) escapes her millionaire father (Walter Connolly) to wants to stop her from marrying a worthless playboy. En route to New York, Ellie gets involved with an out-of-work newspaper reporter, Peter Warne (Clark Gable). When their night bus breaks down, the bickering couple set off on a hilarious hitchiking expedition.
Peter hopes to turn the inside story of their misadventures into a job. But complications fly when the runaway heiress and brash reporter fall in love.
IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT scooped all five major catergories at the 1934 Academy Awards, winning Best Picture, Best Actor (Clark Gable), Best Actress (Claudette Colbert), Best Screenplay (Robert Riskin) and Best Director (Frank Capra).
The DVD includes the trailer, rare radio material, picture/promo gallery and a featurette.
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on December 12, 2000
When you hear the phrase uttered "they don't make'em like they used to," films like It Happened One Night come immediately to mind. This 1934 classic has it all: great writing, direction, stars, character actors, cinematography, you name it. If Clark Gable hadn't made Gone With The Wind five years later, this may have been the performance he'd be most remembered by. As down-on-his-luck newspaperman Peter Warren, Gable is at his best. As the spoiled, rich heiress Ellie Andrews, Claudette Colbert is his equal. Her character is tough, yet vulnerable, spoiled, but lovable, sexy and innocent, and incredibly appealing. Filled with classics scenes that are laugh-out-loud funny, this film is balanced by many poignant (Capraesque) scenes as well. The dialogue, direction, and pacing are first-rate (there's never a dull moment), and the chemistry between the two leads is wonderful. Both Gable and Colbert appear to be having the time of their lives. The most famous scene is probably where Colbert stops a car with her beautiful legs when Gable's thumb doesn't get the job done, but there are many more to savor. When Gable and Colbert pretend to be a feuding married couple, it's hard to keep a straight face and admire the ease at which they pull off this ruse. Other memorable scenes include Alan Hale singing "young people in love are very seldom hungry," Colbert's fiancee arriving at the wedding in the "Autogyro," and Gable pretending to be a gangster to scare away an amorous traveling salesman (trying to snag Colbert). And who can forget the Walls of Jericho? But my favorite has to be the bus ride sing-a-long where everyone joins in to sing "The Man on the Flying Trapeze"; it's an absolute gem. There isn't enough to say about this wonderful picture. After almost 70 years, It Happened One Night is as fresh as ever. Of all the screwball comedies to come out of Hollywood in the 1930s, this one is in a league of its own. And how many of today's movies have women's roles the equal of Colbert's? She is more than set decoration; she's an essential part of the film. Without her cool, sophisticated performance, Gable's everyman would seem less than it is. A film that truly deserved every Academy Award it received, It Happened One Night is a movie that will live on forever.
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on March 30, 2001
"It Happen One Night" won the top 5 Oscars of 1934. Best Picture, Best Director - Frank Capra, Best Actor - Clark Gable, Best Actress - Claudette Colbert & Screen Play. This is one of the best "screwball comedies" ever. (Screwball (Black) comedy was a type of comedy introduced during the Depression years (1930's) depicting strange scenarios, characters with twists and bazaar (screwball) plots).
In summary; Rich, spoiled,runaway heiress Ellie (Colbert) & a newspaper reporter, Peter (Gable) have a chance meeting on a bus & end up together on a crazy romantic journey. They are totally mismatched and in an adversarial relationship. Their trek takes them through the Depression countryside of America where Ellie gets a strong dose of reality. As events unfurl & situations occur they become involved & the rest is cinematic history.
This DVD is one of the best ever. The picture & sound quality rival being at the original showing. Probally because it is digitalized better!!!. The extras, including a radio broadcast show with Gable and Colbert & one of the best movie commentaries by Frank Capra Jr. (Frank Sr's, son)are added treats to enjoy. A great value DVD.
This is a great way to enjoy the Hollywood of the 30's and the stellar cast performing perfectly.
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on January 6, 2015
This is one of my favorite movies. Claudette Colbert is a spoiled heiress trying to get from Florida to New York without being stopped by her father, and Clark Gable is the wise-cracking newspaper man who decides to help her get to New York so he can sell her story. This is one of the first romantic comedies, and is arguably the first time the leading man also provided the comic relief. It's very watchable, very funny, and its influence can be seen in nearly every romantic comedy made since 1935.

Having recently watched the Criterion Collection DVD of Gold Rush (1925) (which looks amazing), I had high hopes for It Happened One Night's transfer to blu ray. The first several minutes are a vast improvement to the DVD. The water looked amazing, for example. Unfortunately, there are still a lot of sound issues and fuzzy images. For example when Clark Gable yells, "Quit bawling!" the audio has the same feedback as my DVD copy. And there are several scenes that seem out of focus/fuzzy, or the picture gets a bit washed out or a little too dark, and I swear I could still hear a hiss in a couple of the late night scenes. I know there's only so much they can do to restore these old negatives, but it seemed like they only attempted to restore the first fifteen minutes or so and gave up.

The blu ray is also missing a handful of special features that are on my DVD (the vintage ads, the live radio re-broadcast, talent files, and Frank Capra, Jr's commentary track). There are new special features on the blu ray, but I'll be keeping my old DVD copy in order to retain the old special features.

All in all, I'm happy that I bought the Criterion Collection blu ray, but only because I adore this movie so much. I would recommend people with a casual interest in this film to simply get the DVD since the picture and sound are nearly identical (to me).
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on August 25, 2000
It Happened One Night has aged very well, and it remains as funny and sexy as when it first premiered in 1934. Claudette Colbert stars as an heiress on the run, trying to get away from her controlling father who does not approve of the man she has quickly married. While on a bus to New York to return to her new husband, she becomes entangled with news reporter Clark Gable, a man who feels only contempt for her (at first), but who won't pass up a good story. Colbert and especially Gable are in top form, displaying a terrific chemistry in Frank Capra's comedy. The scenes I enjoyed are the same as everyone else - the walls of Jericho and Colbert's method for hitch-hiking. But my favourite scene is in the cabin when they pretend to be a bickering married couple to throw off investigators looking for her. Their "improv" is hysterical. I can't believe that after almost seventy years, this film has not dated. Give credit to Capra, writer Robert Riskin, and of course, the star combination. Watch this video when you get a chance!
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