Episode 121: It Happened One Night (1934)

Romantic comedies.  A staple (or at least a paperclip) of Hollywood movies since the Pre-Cambrian era.  This genre has survived world wars, Great Depressions, and bell-bottomed pants.  We love us some meet-cute, will-they-or-won’t-they, will she marry the rich snob or the snarky but hunky pipe welder type movies.  And it’s funny! In this, our latest series “Isn’t It Romantic,” we’re going to be looking at a whole bunch of these film mainstays and trying to figure out if they hold up, if we buy the romance and if we laugh at the comedy.  From the classics to the recents to the ones that some say almost killed the entire genre, we’re going to be looking at them.  With our eyes.  And then we’ll be talking about them.  With our mouths.  Oh, and we’ll be listening with our ears, too, don’t want you to think we’d forget that.  This week, we’re kicking things off (and badly bruising our toes) with one of the classics: Frank Capra’s “It Happened One Night,” starring Claudette Colbert and some guy named Clark . . . something . . . some kind of roofing term . . . I want to say Cornice? Turret? Slate? Well, it’ll come to me and when it does we hope you’re there listening with your ears (or whatever orifice you prefer to listen with; we don’t judge).  Enjoy!

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5 thoughts on “Episode 121: It Happened One Night (1934)”

  1. The reason this movie – and the entire screwball comedy genre – exists is the Hays code. “Suggested” in 1927 and enacted in 1934, the Hays code was a list of rules mostly concerning sex and violence for picture studios to self-enforce. They weren’t laws, but if a movie didn’t pass the Hays Code, they were most likely panned and avoided. The Code lasted until, unbelievably, 1968. The Hays code is the reason for things like one foot on the floor in a bed scene, no blood when someone got shot, etc. Not everyone was happy about the Hays Code, as one can imagine. Screwball comedies were full of workarounds and double entendres as a jab to those codes. Women were often portrayed as the stronger character as part of this nose-thumbing. Rosalind Russell in His Girl Friday is a great example.

    1. True indeed, Val! Good point. The Hays Code and the Commission were responsible for some remarkably silly (and downright harmful) nonsense. Hard to believe the damn thing hung on until 1968.

  2. I really enjoyed this episode and learned a lot about a film I’ve seen several times but never analyzed very deeply. Do you guys consider the Astaire and Rogers films romcoms? They sort of are and many of them are seriously word the more you think about them.

    1. Hmm. Interesting question, Vince. I tend to think of the Astaire/Rogers films as musical comedy, as the emphasis is more on the singing and dancing. There are certainly funny moments and clever dialogue in them . . . gonna have to think on that one. No reason films can’t be part of multiple genres, of course.

      1. They certainly have the elements of a rom com as they usually hate each at the start or one hates the other then come together in the end… through the magic of dance.. or some strange happenstance. They might almost be their own genre and they are strange and weird. Girls dancing on planes in flight, Rogers chasing men with a rifle, the art deco “Venice”and, of course, Edward Everett Horton!

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