Review: It Happened One Night 1934

Lost Horizon

Review: It Happened One Night

The New Republic, May 9, 1934 (Their web site here)

It is a little late in the day for mention of It Happened One Night, but since the picture is still floating around the little houses and since it would be a pity to miss it, I should like to plump for it here, and strongly. Considering its subject, it is better than it has any right to be - better acted, better directed, better written.

The plot has to do with a girl who escapes the rigors of life on her father's yacht and takes a long-distance bus for New York, where she proposes to join a villain she has just married. She runs into a fired newspaperman who at first is rather hard on her but soon turns out to be a very number-one sort of chap indeed, and everything runs along nicely until the two have surmounted about everything and are nearly home. But then, everybody being in love with everybody else in pleasantly conclusive fashion, there enters more confusion as to who loves whom and why than might be expected of a Moliere comedy.

Barring the incidents of the bus ride, the outlines of the story have a deadly enough familiarity all through anyway. What the picture as a whole shows is that by changing such types as the usual pooh-bah father and city editor into people with some wit and feeling, by consistently preferring the light touch to the heavy, and by casting actors who are thoroughly up to the work of acting, you can make some rather comely and greenish grasses grow where there was only alkali dust before.

The cast was particularly sound from top to bottom. Claudette Colbert sensed what was required of her, and did it very well, though I do not care for her much as a person-not as much in fact as for Walter Connolly, who was delightful. Clark Gable was the outstanding feature, managing to be a rowdy and a perfect gentle-man and a newspaperman and a young lover, all in the same breath and the most breezy and convincing manner imaginable.

And now having adjudicated and discriminated and in a word defined the picture with proper regard for this and that, I am reminded that such a picture cannot be defined at all until we find a way of describing whatever it is that makes first-rate entertainment what it is.

[Our page on It Happened One Night with complete credits is here]

Original page 2007 | Updated April 2013

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