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#22-It Happened One Night

Quick recap: Socialite Ellie Andrews has married a man her father disapproves of. When he annuls the  marriage, she runs away to be with her husband. Andrews embarks on a journey to New York by bus that proves difficult because she is rich and also a woman. Peter Warne, a journalist, steps in to help her manage her money and not get taken advantage of because she is rich and also a woman. At some point Andrews falls in love with Warne and of course everyone lives happily ever after. Except Andrews because she is rich and also a woman.

he's teaching her how to dunk her donut properly because she can't even do that right

he’s teaching her how to dunk her donut properly because she can’t even do that right

Fun (?) Fact: The next time someone mentions that they love this movie, I’m going to respond with, “Do you know who else loves this movie? HITLER.” Because he totally did. Apparently.

I think I just wanted to mention Hitler so I could post this.

I think I just wanted to mention Hitler so I could post this.

My thoughts: If there is 0ne genre of movie I detest, it would have to be the modern ‘Romantic Comedy’. I can’t quite pin down why I hate them so, but it might have to do with the fact that the woman always seems desperate for a man and falls in love with him in some zany way. And then when I read the description for this movie, I realized that THIS is where it all began and for some reason that gave me hope. Maybe the original romantic comedy is delightful and really funny and sweet and the modern genre has just lost its focus.


As a disclaimer, if I look at this movie in the correct context of 1930’s American culture, I can see why it was such a big hit. It’s an interesting premise to have love blossom on a bus and the main characters are gorgeous. But I’m watching this in 2013 and the plot just doesn’t hold up as well. Ellie Andrews is supposed to be this hard headed woman who will do what she pleases, but what she wants is a man. She needs a man. And she has absolutely no idea how busses work. She seems so strong in the beginning, but by the very first night of running away, she is leaning on Warne’s arm for comfort. She misses the bus the next day and Warne is there to rescue her. At one point he even takes away her money because she isn’t using it properly. She becomes even more helpless as time passes. There is one scene when the two of them try to get some rest in a haystack. Warne walks away for a minute to find food and Andrews FREAKS out. I know that the scene is important to show that she is in love, but she seemed more like a child than an ‘independent woman’. I suppose the two are perfect for each other as one needs constant rescuing and guidance and the other is perfectly happy to fill that role.

And then there is the violence and threatening of violence. I get that that sort of thing was hilarious a long time ago, but it just makes the movie seem dated now. 10 minutes into the first scene, Andrew’s father is slapping her for being silly. In one of the most important scenes where Warne declares his love for Andrews he says, ‘She needs a guy who’d take a sock at her once a day whether she deserves it or not.’ That’s true love, right there.

Plot aside, I really did enjoy the bus scenes with all of the colorful characters and I also fell in love with the motel houses (?) that they stayed in each night. It made me want to buy a bus ticket right then and there, although I don’t think I would have as grand a time. This movie was also set in the 30’s and you know what that means….. spinning newspaper montage!!! No classic film is complete without it.

And Clark Gable, we can’t forget about him. He was the sole reason I found myself drawn to this movie more than I expected to. He was charming and funny and I think I fell in love at some point. The one scene I found truly hilarious was of Warne undressing himself in front of Andrews in an attempt to persuade her to stay with him. I can see why everyone went crazy over him back then.

yet another novel way to threaten a woman

yet another novel way to threaten a woman

Final review: 3/5. This was a tough one to settle on. I disliked the helplessness of Andrews but on the other hand, CLARK GABLE.

Where/how I watched it: Netflix DVD

Up Next:  Ariel, my first foray into subtitled foreign films. Oh boy.


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