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It Happened One Night : Movie Review

April 1, 2009

There’s always something peculiar about Hollywood films made in the 30’s and 40’s. The set designs, costumes, acting, narrative, cinematography were just beginning to take a new dimension with the introduction of some ground breaking techniques.  Also the affects of the “Great Depression” were clearly visible in many of the films. It was also the era in which the Screwball Comedies came into being.  It Happened One Night, Mr.Smith Goes to Washington, His Girl Friday, Some Like it Hot were some of the best of this genre. Based on a story “Night Bus” by Samuel Hopkins Adams,  “It Happened One Night” is a 1934 film directed by Frank Capra, starring Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert. It’s an everlasting romance which still makes you smile with its sharp wit and wonderful performances by Clark and Claudette.

The story traverses the journey of Ellie Andrews who having escaped from her father’s clutches is enroute to meeting her husband in New York. Ellie meets Peter Warne, a journalist in the bus and through a series of unfortunate and comical events, both of them are forced to spend time with each other. And then…well, It Happened One Night…eventually!

Clark Gable is perhaps the most famous Hollywood star to have emerged in the pre-Hitchcockian era of American Films. He has a terrific screen presence and an undeniable charisma as evident in his more famous movies like Gone With The Wind. In this film, he stars as a journalist who falls in love with a spoilt brat and yet he has an agenda of his own. Claudette Colbert as Ellie Andrews is brilliant. A little snobbish, a little shy, a little meek, she encompasses everything about a girl who falls in love with the man of her dreams. The lead pair share some of the most charming scenes I have seen in the recent few months. Take that hitchhiking scene for example or even their discussions in the motels, there’s something unintentionally charming about them. Where did all that go? We hardly see scenes or dialogues like that now.

The wiki page of “It Happened One Night” has some very interesting things about the production and the subsequent reaction about the film. For more details, read the full article here….

However, what struck me most is the number of films that have been either shamelessly ripped off or inspired by this original film. Below is the list of few Indian films which have been inspired by ” It Happened One Night”….(source-Wikipedia).

“The 1956 Bollywood film Chori Chori starring Raj Kapoor and Nargis Dutt is a frame by frame copy of It Happened One Night. The film was also remade into a more recent movie called Dil Hai Ki Manta Nahin starring Aamir Khan and Pooja Bhatt directed by Mahesh Bhatt. It was made into a Kannada (southern Indian language) movie called Hudugaata, meaning “Child’s Play”, starring Ganesh (of television’s Comedy Time) and Rekha Vedavyas. A Bengali movie named Chaoa Paoa, starring Uttam Kumar and Suchitra Sen, was made in 1959, inspired by this film.”

And I can’t even count the number of films in which the Hitchhiking scene has been replicated. Phew! “It Happened One Night” was the first film to win all the big five Oscar Awards (Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actresses, Writing), a feat which has been repeated only twice after that, with One Flew Over Cukcoo’s Nest and  Silence of the Lambs. Frank Capra does a fantastic job in extracting such brilliant performances from his cast, however the credit for such a charming love story should go to the guy behind the Screenplay of the film, Robert Riskin. He pens some wonderful lines for almost everyone in the film.

On the flip side, after having seen this movie, I feel a little different about all those Hindi, Telugu, Kannada and other language movies which have either plagarised or inspired by this film. It’s not the same anymore, at some point you tend to lose respect for our Indian Film makers. More on that later…don’t miss this filck. Most probably you will like the film. Most probably, you will watch it on more than one night…

3 Comments leave one →
  1. April 28, 2009 1:45 pm

    Hey Hemant, it was really nice to see a post on IHON. I can also see that your taste in movies is quite varied (as I think mine is).
    Keep blogging.

    • Hemanth permalink*
      April 28, 2009 2:29 pm

      Hey Guru,
      Thanks for your comment! I am glad to know that you love movies as you blog about movies somewhere? Lemme know..:)


      • May 19, 2009 5:51 pm

        See the link

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