Why it’s famous:
Probably one of the most famous screwball comedies of its time, It Happened One Night established itself as the light, romantic comedy to watch if you ever chose to watch one. With its quippy dialogue, brilliant moments of light comedic timing, and a lively and sassy performance by Claudette Colbert, it remains a must-see even 80 years later.
Peter Warne: Why didn’t you take off all your clothes? You could have stopped 40 cars.
Ellie Andrews: Well, ooh, I’ll remember that when we need 40 cars.
Peter Warne: I want to see what love looks like when it’s triumphant. I haven’t had a good laugh in a week.
Why you haven’t seen it:
It’s one of those movies you feel like you have seen even if you haven’t. The basic structure of the storyline has been rethought, reworked, and recycled by countless Hollywood screenwriters running out of ideas. And since it’s a romantic comedy, you know how it’s going to end anyway.
Why it might be tough to get through:
If you have got any hint of feminism within you, this film will be painful to get through. Let’s start off with the less-than-brilliant female lead that leaves everything behind for a husband her father doesn’t approve of, only to fall for a stranger she barely knows in fewer than 48 hours; the patronizing male lines; and the “what would you do without me, silly female?” moments. This one’s certainly not a worthy candidate under the Bechdel Test.
Why you should see it anyway:
Despite its misogynistic undertones and the fact that it’s, well, a romantic comedy, this flick is still worth your 105 minutes, if only for the effect of time-travelling back to the ‘30s when the concept of a sassy female lead was earth-shattering for the silver screen. It has incredibly witty dialogue that will keep you interested. This film will most likely get a couple chuckles out of you, sometime in between your periodic “why am I watching a rom-com?” eye-rolls.
- This was the first film to win the Oscar “Grand Slam” (Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director, and Best Screenplay).
- According to William L. Shirer’s Berlin Diary, the film was one of Adolf Hitler’s and Joseph Stalin’s favourite movies.