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New York Times Film Reviews - It happened one night

Source: New York Times, 2/23/1934, 23:2

There are few serious moments in "It Happened One Night," a screen feast which awaits visitors to the Radio City, and if there is a welter of improbable incidents these hectic doings serve to generate plenty of laughter. The pseudo suspense is kept on the wing until a. few seconds before the picture ends, but it is a foregone conclusion that the producers would never dare to have the characters acted by Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert separated when the curtain falls.

In this merry romance, which is an adaptation of a magazine story by Samuel Hopkins Adams, Peter Warns (Mr. Gable) and Ellis Andrews (Miss Colbert) enjoy the discomforts of a long-distance bus ride; they also experience the pain of hitch-hiking and the joys of tourist camps. Besides these glimpses, one beholds Alexander Andrews searching for his daughter in an airplane, expostulating with secretaries and sleuths because he is unable to find the missing girl, Incidentally an heiress.

Warne is one of those crack newspaper men frequently discovered in Hollywood's spacious studios. He does not hesitate to tell his superiors in outbursts of slang precisely what he thinks of them, even though his finances at the time are at a low ebb. Ellis is an obstinate young person, who to spite her father has become the wife (in name only) of a dashing young man named King Westley. She finds herself virtually a prisoner on her father's yacht and, in the introductory scenes, she is on a hunger strike. Soon afterward she darts from her cabin to the deck, leaps overboard and swims for Florida and freedom.

It is while she is on her way from Miami to New York that she encounters Warns, an audacious person. To make matters more interesting, the producers or the author decide that the fiery Ellis must have her suitcase stolen. As days go by, Warns and Ellis experience the pangs of hunger and, at one period, they have to content themselves with a meal of raw carrots.

"It Happened One Night" is a good piece of fiction, which, with all its feverish stunts, is blessed with bright dialogue and a good quota of relatively restrained scenes. Although there are such flighty notions as that of having Ellis running away from a marriage ceremony when the guests- and particularly King Westley- had expected to hear her say "I will"; or those depicting Warns volleying vituperation over the telephone at his city editor; those are also more sober sequences wherein Warne and Ellis spread cheer to the audience, notwithstanding their sorry adventures with little or no money.

Miss Colbert gives an engaging and lively performance. Mr. Gable is excellent in his role. Roscoe Karns affords no little fun by his flirtatious conduct on board a bus. Walter Connolly is in his element as Ellis's father and Alan Hale gives a robust portrayal of an artful owner of a flivver.


F23, 1934, 23:2

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