It Happened One Night

Claudette Colbert and Clark Gable strike sparks in one of the first, greatest and – despite the American censor – sexiest of romantic screwball comedies.

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Introduction

“As buoyant and elegant as bubbles in a glass of champagne, it survives triumphantly because of its wit, charm, romantic idealism and its shrewd sketch of married life.”
Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian, 2010

Released just as the Hays Office was beginning to enforce the Production Code censoring ‘immoral’ movies, Frank Capra’s impish, daring comedy crackles with erotic tension. Claudette Colbert’s runaway heiress meets Clark Gable’s recently fired newspaperman on a night bus from Florida to New York (neither actor was first choice for the roles). They take an instant dislike to one another, but find themselves posing as a quarrelling married couple after he blackmails her into giving him a story.

Scripted by Capra’s regular collaborator Robert Riskin, this became the first film to win all five main Oscars, including best picture, cementing Capra’s reputation as a director as well as those of Columbia Pictures and his two stars.

The template of journalist and heiress becoming romantically entangled on a bus journey was recycled – with the addition of aliens – in Gareth Edwards’s Monsters (2010).

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