Classy Clark

Posted on November 6, 2010


Finally after a long gap I decided to watch classic films this week. I started out with “It happened one night which starred Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert.

and it lasted forever.......

More importantly the film was directed by Frank Capra, who went on to direct Joseph Kesselring’s play “Arsenic and old lace” which had my personal favorite Cary Grant playing the lead.

“It happened one night” released in 1934. Most of us would be familiar with the fact that this was the first film to win the ‘Big Five’ academy awards – Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor. Best Actress and Best Writing. A feat emulated only by “One flew over the cuckoo’s nest” & “Silence of the lambs”

The plot revolves around Ellen Andrews (Colbert), a pampered heiress who has married King Westley (Jameson Thomas) but has been brought back home before she could consummate her marriage by her wealthy father Alexander Andrews played by Walter Connolly.

She manages to escape from his yacht and plan her way to New York to reconcile with Westley. But it is not going to be an easy task with multiple detective agencies looking out for.

A journalist, Peter Warne (Clark Gable), introduced in an exuberant scene, on a phone conversation with his newspaper editor who just fires him, has a gang listening on outside the booth.

What follows is a typical romance movie which we would have seen in various interpretations in modern times.

Clark Gable’s style and gift of gab impresses. It makes me lament that contemporary cinema has not many such cases to show. The quintessential gentleman, suited up, hair combed with that streak parting.

I read that Gable was not very intent on doing this film, but enjoyed working with Capra nor was Colbert, but that I don’t care.

This is the first time I saw a Gable film with intent, (Gone with the wind was one to invoke sleep with) but being the Cary Grant fan I would put the latter on a higher pedestal.

The movie was remade in 1956 in India as “Chori Chori” which had Raj Kapoor and Nargis in a frame by frame copy (quoting wikipedia).

But I feel there have been several inspirations drawn out of this movie, the basic plot being – girl running away. It may not be a scene by scene copy or having the same characters, something which strikes you about “It happened one night” when you see that respective film.

The most striking similarity I can draw is “Jab we met”, Kareena Kapoor playing a happy go lucky girl, intending to elope with her boyfriend. Shahid Kapur playing the:  “cupid transforming into the lover boy” character.

This film formed in a connection with me as the protagonist playing a journalist. He swears by his principles, a characteristic much required and missing among present day journalists.

The pre-climax scene, where Warne approaches Andrews to settle the financial matter with regards to the return of his daughter made an aspiring reporter like me to stand up and applaud.

This movie has been an inspiration of sorts, Isador Frelang stated this movie helped him conceptualise Bugs Bunny. The ‘what’s up doc’ phrase, the carrots are a stark resemblance.

The hitch-hiking scene has been rated very high, I wondered why all these years. It was just not leg revealing of Colbert, but the Gable’s description on the ways hitch-hiking.

Gable says that he can write a book on the gestures which can be used to hitch a ride; he uses the book writing phrase twice. The other instance he used the book writing line was for dunking donuts.

His dialogues are powerful and pack a punch, written well and said even better!

The poster of this movie gives an impression that Gabble could be playing an aristocrat and a poor impression of his moustache.

Be it 1934 or 2034, this movie will still be in the minds of all cinema lovers, reminding them of the thrills and pleasures of romantic comedies.

Posted in: Cinema, Review