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IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT

                    

For Hicksflicks.com, Nov. 14, 2014

Filmmaker Frank Capra had an amazing run in the 1930s — highlighted by "Lady For a Day," "Mr. Deeds Goes to Town," "Lost Horizon," "You Can't Take it With You" and "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington."

And in the midst of those, the romantic comedy "It Happened One Night" (1934, b/w), starring Claudette Colbert and Clark Gable — one of those great old early-sound films that manages to hold up quite well today.

The film has never really gone out of print since it was initially released on VHS and then DVD, but now it has made its Blu-ray debut on the boutique label The Criterion Collection.

        

       Claudette Colbert, Clark Gable, 'It Happened One Night'

Colbert is a spoiled heiress whose father disapproves of the gold-digger with whom she has eloped. When dad tries to get her to agree to an annulment she runs away, taking a bus to New York where she plans to rejoin her husband.

But on the bus is a recently fired newspaper reporter (Gable) who recognizes her and threatens to call her father unless she allows him to help her and agrees to give him the exclusive story on her adventures. Naturally, love follows.

Colbert and Gable make a great team (they'd be paired again six years later in "Boom Town") and the film has many of Capra's stock company members in support. There are also many memorable moments that are still referenced in movie circles, chiefly the "Walls of Jericho" sequence and the hitchhiking scene.

   

An immensely popular crowd-pleaser, "It Happened One Night" went on to become the first film to win all five of what are considered the top Academy Award categories: Best Picture, Best Director (Capra), Best Actor (Gable), Best Actress (Colbert) and Best Screenplay (Robert Riskin).

And even more surprising, it held onto that record for more than 40 years — until 1975, when "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" matched it.