It Happened One Night is filled with snappy dialogue, delivered by the deliciously smarmy Clark Gable. Those scenes are all the better when shared by Claudette Colbert. At 105 minutes, it's just about the perfect length for a movie, and the great scenes give it forward momentum almost all the way through. The last twenty minutes, however, takes a bit too long to reach it's conclusion. The conclusion is obvious and satisfying, however, so it works well enough.
While the dialogue makes the movie good, a few bright scenes makes it great. Clark Gable does a memorable strip tease (even the most homophobic of you can handle it). Gable and Colbert's attempt at hitchhiking has been repeated and parodied enough. Gable's carrot eating in the scene even inspired a certain cartoon rabbit, as does a minor character's repeated use of the word "Doc" elsewhere in the movie. I'm embedding the scene below. In the last couple frames, you might recognize the driver. That's both Little John and the Skipper's dad.
My absolute favorite scene, however, is a sing-a-long on the bus. A group of musicians suddenly appear on the back of the bus, and soon everyone is singing "The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze." Different passengers, none of whom we have previously seen or will see again, take a different verse. The entire bus, Gable and Colbert featured, sing along with the chorus. It doesn't make a great deal of sense, though it does lead to the next plot point (featuring the exterior of a totally different bus and driver crashing into a ditch). But it's a few minutes of pure cinematic joy.
NEXT WEEK: 1936 - Mutiny on the Bounty
Oscar Project Rankings:
1. It Happened One Night (1935)
2. All Quiet on the Western Front (1931)
3. Grand Hotel (1933)
4. Cimarron (1932)
5. Broadway Melody (1930)
6. Wings (1929)
7. Cavalcade (1933)