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On Feb. 22, 1934, Frank Capra’s classic road trip film It Happened One Night hit theaters. The pic went on to win five honors at the 7th Academy Awards, including best actor for Clark Gable and actress for Claudette Colbert. The Hollywood Reporter’s original review is below.
Well, another swell, bang-up grand picture has dropped in our midst. It is Columbia’s It Happened One Night, a charming, human, believable story, with charming, human, believable characters.
The thing gallops right along, kicking up its heels in cheerful, frisky joie de vivre, and the audience gallops right along with it. There’s not a dull moment, in spite of the fact that it runs a good two hours. Undoubtedly some of it near the end will be cut, but it is so fine throughout that it’s a shame it can’t be all kept in.
It is comedy with a kick, drama with a punch, and the picture is served with acting and direction that hit a new high all their own.
Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert have the parts of their lives. He is a newspaper man who helps her to escape from her father who is bent on preventing her marriage to a young bounder. On their hitch hike from Miami to New York, they fall in love with each other.
Neither Gable nor Colbert seem to do any acting. They just amble joyfully through the picture, being utterly natural and devastatingly human. And they and the picture are blessed with lines that do nothing but sparkle. There isn’t a dull line of dialogue in the whole thing, and there isn’t a dead character.
Walter Connolly is splendid as usual as Miss Colbert’s father, and Roscoe Karns is amusing as a traveling salesman. Alan Hale is good in a smaller role.
Frank Capra’s direction is like million dollar icing on a perfect cake, and Robert Riskin made a brilliant adaptation of Samuel Hopkins Adams’ story. Joseph Walker’s photography is worthy of the film, and that’s saying a lot.
Do a favor to your audiences, and grab this one off for them. It’s got everything — names, superb acting, riotous comedy and perfect direction. — Staff review, originally published Jan. 20, 1934
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