It Happened One Night


1h 45m 1934
It Happened One Night

Brief Synopsis

A newspaperman tracks a runaway heiress on a madcap cross-country tour.

Film Details

Also Known As
Night Bus
Genre
Comedy
Romance
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Feb 23, 1934
Premiere Information
New York opening: 22 Feb 1934
Production Company
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Distribution Company
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Country
United States
Location
Pasadena--Busch Gardens, California, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the short story "Night Bus" by Samuel Hopkins Adams in Hearst's International-Cosmopolitan (Aug 1933).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 45m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Noiseless Recording)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
9,431ft (11 reels)

Synopsis

Spoiled heiress Ellie Andrews escapes from her millionaire father Alexander's yacht when he kidnaps her after she elopes with and marries King Westley, a playboy aviator whom Andrews thinks is a fortune hunter. She boards a bus headed for New York and meets Peter Warne, a reporter who has just been fired. Despite their dislike for each other, Peter attempts to catch the thief who steals Ellie's suitcase, but he fails. At their next stop, Ellie misses the bus after going to a nearby hotel to freshen up, and when she returns, discovers that Peter has waited for her, both to return the ticket she left behind and to show her a newspaper article revealing her identity, which she was trying to conceal. After another quarrel, they meet on the next bus, which is forced to stop due to a washed-out bridge. Peter and Ellie spend the night in an auto lodge where they pretend they are married and rent one cabin to save money. Peter informs her that he will help her reach Westley only if she will give him her exclusive story, which he needs to redeem himself, and that if she does not cooperate, he will call her father. She reluctantly accepts his terms while he strings a rope between their beds and hangs up a blanket, which he dubs "The Walls of Jericho."

The next morning, they are preparing to leave when they hear her father's detectives approaching. They put on an excellent act of being married, and their fighting convinces the detectives to leave, after which Peter and Ellie board the bus. Meanwhile, Andrews has offered a $10,000 reward for information concerning his daughter. Oscar Shapeley, an obnoxious fellow passenger on the bus, reads about the reward and offers to split it with Peter, but then threatens to go to Ellie's father himself. Peter then convinces Shapeley that he is a gangster who has kidnapped Ellie, and the terrified man flees. Still worried that Shapeley will go to the authorities, Peter and Ellie leave the bus. They try to hitchhike the next morning, and after Peter's technique meets with no success, Ellie quickly stops a car by showing off her legs. Peter sulks as they drive, but his petulance turns to anger when the driver steals his suitcase, rousing Peter to chase the car, tie the driver to a tree and then return for Ellie. Back in New York, Andrews resigns himself to accept Westley to get Ellie back, and they issue a press release. Ellie sees the newspaper article with Westley's pleas for her return, but she hides it from Peter. She insists that they check into another auto lodge for the night, even though they are only three hours away from New York. That night, Ellie confesses her love for Peter, begging him to take her with him, but he rejects her.

Later, seeing that Ellie is asleep, Peter rushes to New York, writes his story and sells it to his editor, Joe Gordon, so that he will have enough money to begin a life with Ellie. In his absence, however, the owners of the auto lodge throw Ellie out when she can explain neither Peter's absence nor give them money for the room. Ellie then telephones her father and gives herself up because she thinks Peter has deserted her. As her car goes toward New York, Peter passes it, going in the opposite direction, but Ellie does not see him. On the day of Ellie and Westley's formal wedding, Andrews confronts Ellie, and she confesses that although she loves Peter, she will go through with the wedding because Peter despises her. Her father inadvertently shows her a letter he received from Peter about a financial matter, which both of the Andrews mistakenly assume refers to the reward. Andrews summons Peter to the house, and when he arrives, he presents Andrews with an itemized bill for $39.60, the amount he spent during the trip. He refuses any reward, which impresses Andrews, and Andrews makes Peter admit that he loves Ellie as well.

Moments later, as Andrews walks Ellie down the aisle, he tells her of his meeting with Peter and that her car is waiting by the gate if she changes her mind. She does, and runs off again, but this time much to the pleasure of her father. Andrews pays Westley $100,000 for not contesting the annulment of his and Ellie's marriage, then notifies Peter and Ellie that they may marry. The newlyweds go to another auto lodge, where they ask the owners for a rope, a blanket and a trumpet. That night, the trumpet sounds as The Walls of Jerico tumble down.

Cast

Clark Gable

Peter [Warne]

Claudette Colbert

Ellie [Andrews]

Walter Connolly

[Alexander] Andrews

Roscoe Karns

[Oscar] Shapeley

Jameson Thomas

[King] Westley

Alan Hale

Danker

Arthur Hoyt

Zeke

Blanche Friderici

Zeke's wife

Charles C. Wilson

[Joe] Gordon

Ward Bond

Bus driver

Eddie Chandler

Bus driver

Wallis Clark

Lovington

Harry Bradley

Henderson

Charlie Brown

Reporter

Harry Holman

Third auto camp owner

Maidel Turner

His wife

Irving Bacon

Station attendant

Harry Todd

Flagman

Henry Wadsworth

Drunk boy

Claire Mcdowell

Mother

Ky Robinson

Detective

Frank Holliday

Detective

James Burke

Detective

Joseph Crehan

Detective

Matty Roubert

Newsboy

Sherry Hall

Reporter

Milton Kibbee

Reporter

Mickey Daniels

Vendor

Earl M. Pingree

First policeman

Harry Hume

Second policeman

Oliver Eckhardt

Dykes

George Breakston

Boy

Bess Flowers

Secretary

Fred Walton

Butler

Ethel Sykes

Maid of honor

Father Dodd

Minister

Edmund Burns

Best man

Tom Ricketts

Prissy old man

Eva Dennison

Society woman

Eddie Kane

Radio announcer

Frank Yaconelli

Tony

Kate Morgan

Bus passenger

Rose May

Bus passenger

Margaret Reid

Bus passenger

Sam Josephson

Bus passenger

Bert Starkey

Bus passenger

Ray Creighton

Bus passenger

Rita Ross

Bus passenger

Ernie Adams

Bus passenger

John Wallace

Bus passenger

Billy Engle

Bus passenger

Allen Fox

Bus passenger

Marvin Loback

Bus passenger

Mimi Lindell

Bus passenger

Blanche Rose

Bus passenger

Dave Wengren

Bus passenger

Jane Tallent

Bus passenger

Charles Wilroy

Bus passenger

Patsy O'byrne

Bus passenger

Kit Guard

Bus passenger

Harry Schultz

Bus passenger

Bert Scott

Bus passenger

Emma Tansey

Bus passenger

Marvin Shector

Bus passenger

William Mccall

Bus passenger

S. S. Simon

Bus passenger

Photo Collections

It Happened One Night - Lobby Cards
Here are a few Lobby Cards from Frank Capra's It Happened One Night (1934), starring Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert. Lobby Cards were 11" x 14" posters that came in sets of 8. As the name implies, they were most often displayed in movie theater lobbies, to advertise current or coming attractions.

Videos

Movie Clip

Trailer

Hosted Intro

Promo

Film Details

Also Known As
Night Bus
Genre
Comedy
Romance
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Feb 23, 1934
Premiere Information
New York opening: 22 Feb 1934
Production Company
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Distribution Company
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Country
United States
Location
Pasadena--Busch Gardens, California, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the short story "Night Bus" by Samuel Hopkins Adams in Hearst's International-Cosmopolitan (Aug 1933).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 45m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Noiseless Recording)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
9,431ft (11 reels)

Award Wins

Best Actor

1934
Clark Gable

Best Actress

1934
Claudette Colbert

Best Director

1934
Frank Capra

Best Picture

1934

Best Writing, Screenplay

1935

Articles

It Happened One Night - It Happened One Night


A runaway heiress meets a poor but charming newspaper reporter while she's on the lam, antipathy turns to love, and they encounter an assortment of oddball characters. It's the ideal premise for a screwball comedy, and has been the basis for many of them. But none did it better than the original, It Happened One Night (1934), the film that's credited with inventing the genre. Director Frank Capra often said that the making of It Happened One Night would have made a pretty good screwball comedy in itself. Consider the elements: two irascible studio bosses, an impossibly fast schedule, a couple of spoiled stars who didn't want to make the picture and are hostile to the harried director -- yet somehow they manage to produce an enduring classic.

In the early 1930s, Columbia Pictures was considered a "Poverty Row" studio, making cheap B-movies. Luckily, Columbia had a major asset in Capra, who had been nominated for an Academy Award for Lady for a Day (1933). Capra and writer Robert Riskin had adapted and renamed a magazine story called "Night Bus," and producer Harry Cohn had arranged to borrow Robert Montgomery from MGM for the lead in the newly named It Happened One Night. But Montgomery balked, saying there were already "too many bus pictures." Instead, MGM studio boss Louis B. Mayer made Cohn an offer he couldn't refuse. "I got an actor here who's being a bad boy," Mayer reportedly told Cohn. "I'd like to spank him." The bad boy was Clark Gable, who was becoming an important star, and flexing his muscles. He told Mayer he wouldn't play any more gigolo roles, and he wanted a raise. Mayer would punish him by exiling him to Siberia on Poverty Row. Gable arrived for his first meeting with Capra drunk, rude, and angry. In spite of this inauspicious beginning, Capra and Gable eventually became friends. Once Gable read the script, he realized the character was a man very like himself, and he enjoyed making It Happened One Night.

Among the stars who had turned down the female lead in It Happened One Night were Myrna Loy, Miriam Hopkins, Constance Bennett and Margaret Sullavan. Claudette Colbert, under contract to Paramount, had four weeks free, but she was also a hard sell. She'd made her first film, For the Love of Mike (1927), with Capra directing, and it had been a disaster, so she was not excited about repeating the experience. What did excite her, however, was the prospect of making $50,000 for four weeks of work, since her Paramount salary was $25,000 per film. So she willingly agreed to do it, but, at the same time, she gave Capra a hard time. Although Colbert had gladly disrobed for De Mille in The Sign of the Cross (1932), she refused to be shown taking off her clothes in the motel room sequence in It Happened One Night. No matter. Draping her unmentionables over the "walls of Jericho" made for a sexier scene anyway. More problematic was the hitchhiking scene. Colbert didn't want to pull up her skirt and flash her legs. So Capra hired a chorus girl, intending to have her legs stand in for Colbert's in close-up. Colbert saw the girl posing, and said, "get her out of here, I'll do it -- that's not my leg!" After shooting wrapped, Colbert told friends, "I've just finished the worst picture in the world!"

Colbert's legs and Gable's chest were the sensations of the film. In the motel room scene, Gable demonstrates how a man undresses. When he took off his shirt, he wore no undershirt. Capra explained that the reason for this was that there was no way Gable could take off his undershirt gracefully, but once audiences saw Gable's naked torso, sales of men's undershirts plummeted. The rest of Gable's simple wardrobe -- Norfolk jacket, V-neck sweater, and trench coat -- also became a men's fashion fad. Thereafter, Gable wore a trench coat in most of his films, considering it his lucky garment.

The reviews for It Happened One Night were excellent, but no one really expected much from the film. After a slow opening, it received great word-of-mouth, and the film picked up steam at the box office. James Harvey, in his book Romantic Comedy in Hollywood, believes that the film succeeded because the couple transcended their stock characters. "There was some kind of new energy in their style: slangy, combative, humorous, unsentimental -- and powerfully romantic. Audiences were bowled over by it."

At Oscar time,It Happened One Night surprised the industry when it was nominated in all five major categories, and stunned everyone when it won them all: Best Actor, Actress, Picture, Director, and Screenplay. It was the first-ever sweep of the awards, a feat that would not be repeated for another 40 years, until One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975). Claudette Colbert was about to depart on a train from New York when she was informed that she'd won. She dashed to the ceremony, dressed in a traveling suit, accepted the award, and dashed back to the train, which had been held for her.

Producer: Harry Cohn
Director: Frank Capra
Screenplay: Robert Riskin (based on the story, "Night Bus," by Samuel Hopkins Adams)
Editor: Gene Havlick
Cinematography: Joseph Walker
Costume Design: Robert Kalloch
Art Direction: Stephen Goosson
Music: Louis Silvers
Principal Cast: Claudette Colbert (Ellie Andrews), Clark Gable (Peter Warne), Roscoe Karns (Oscar Shapeley), Henry Wadsworth (Drunk Boy), Claire McDowell (Mother), Walter Connolly (Alexander Andrews), Alan Hale (Danker).
BW-106m. Closed captioning.

by Margarita Landazuri
It Happened One Night  - It Happened One Night

It Happened One Night - It Happened One Night

A runaway heiress meets a poor but charming newspaper reporter while she's on the lam, antipathy turns to love, and they encounter an assortment of oddball characters. It's the ideal premise for a screwball comedy, and has been the basis for many of them. But none did it better than the original, It Happened One Night (1934), the film that's credited with inventing the genre. Director Frank Capra often said that the making of It Happened One Night would have made a pretty good screwball comedy in itself. Consider the elements: two irascible studio bosses, an impossibly fast schedule, a couple of spoiled stars who didn't want to make the picture and are hostile to the harried director -- yet somehow they manage to produce an enduring classic. In the early 1930s, Columbia Pictures was considered a "Poverty Row" studio, making cheap B-movies. Luckily, Columbia had a major asset in Capra, who had been nominated for an Academy Award for Lady for a Day (1933). Capra and writer Robert Riskin had adapted and renamed a magazine story called "Night Bus," and producer Harry Cohn had arranged to borrow Robert Montgomery from MGM for the lead in the newly named It Happened One Night. But Montgomery balked, saying there were already "too many bus pictures." Instead, MGM studio boss Louis B. Mayer made Cohn an offer he couldn't refuse. "I got an actor here who's being a bad boy," Mayer reportedly told Cohn. "I'd like to spank him." The bad boy was Clark Gable, who was becoming an important star, and flexing his muscles. He told Mayer he wouldn't play any more gigolo roles, and he wanted a raise. Mayer would punish him by exiling him to Siberia on Poverty Row. Gable arrived for his first meeting with Capra drunk, rude, and angry. In spite of this inauspicious beginning, Capra and Gable eventually became friends. Once Gable read the script, he realized the character was a man very like himself, and he enjoyed making It Happened One Night. Among the stars who had turned down the female lead in It Happened One Night were Myrna Loy, Miriam Hopkins, Constance Bennett and Margaret Sullavan. Claudette Colbert, under contract to Paramount, had four weeks free, but she was also a hard sell. She'd made her first film, For the Love of Mike (1927), with Capra directing, and it had been a disaster, so she was not excited about repeating the experience. What did excite her, however, was the prospect of making $50,000 for four weeks of work, since her Paramount salary was $25,000 per film. So she willingly agreed to do it, but, at the same time, she gave Capra a hard time. Although Colbert had gladly disrobed for De Mille in The Sign of the Cross (1932), she refused to be shown taking off her clothes in the motel room sequence in It Happened One Night. No matter. Draping her unmentionables over the "walls of Jericho" made for a sexier scene anyway. More problematic was the hitchhiking scene. Colbert didn't want to pull up her skirt and flash her legs. So Capra hired a chorus girl, intending to have her legs stand in for Colbert's in close-up. Colbert saw the girl posing, and said, "get her out of here, I'll do it -- that's not my leg!" After shooting wrapped, Colbert told friends, "I've just finished the worst picture in the world!" Colbert's legs and Gable's chest were the sensations of the film. In the motel room scene, Gable demonstrates how a man undresses. When he took off his shirt, he wore no undershirt. Capra explained that the reason for this was that there was no way Gable could take off his undershirt gracefully, but once audiences saw Gable's naked torso, sales of men's undershirts plummeted. The rest of Gable's simple wardrobe -- Norfolk jacket, V-neck sweater, and trench coat -- also became a men's fashion fad. Thereafter, Gable wore a trench coat in most of his films, considering it his lucky garment. The reviews for It Happened One Night were excellent, but no one really expected much from the film. After a slow opening, it received great word-of-mouth, and the film picked up steam at the box office. James Harvey, in his book Romantic Comedy in Hollywood, believes that the film succeeded because the couple transcended their stock characters. "There was some kind of new energy in their style: slangy, combative, humorous, unsentimental -- and powerfully romantic. Audiences were bowled over by it." At Oscar time,It Happened One Night surprised the industry when it was nominated in all five major categories, and stunned everyone when it won them all: Best Actor, Actress, Picture, Director, and Screenplay. It was the first-ever sweep of the awards, a feat that would not be repeated for another 40 years, until One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975). Claudette Colbert was about to depart on a train from New York when she was informed that she'd won. She dashed to the ceremony, dressed in a traveling suit, accepted the award, and dashed back to the train, which had been held for her. Producer: Harry Cohn Director: Frank Capra Screenplay: Robert Riskin (based on the story, "Night Bus," by Samuel Hopkins Adams) Editor: Gene Havlick Cinematography: Joseph Walker Costume Design: Robert Kalloch Art Direction: Stephen Goosson Music: Louis Silvers Principal Cast: Claudette Colbert (Ellie Andrews), Clark Gable (Peter Warne), Roscoe Karns (Oscar Shapeley), Henry Wadsworth (Drunk Boy), Claire McDowell (Mother), Walter Connolly (Alexander Andrews), Alan Hale (Danker). BW-106m. Closed captioning. by Margarita Landazuri

Quotes

Your ego is absolutely colossal.
- Ellie
Yeah, yeah, not bad, how's yours?
- Peter Warne
You know, compared to you, my friend Shapeley is an amateur. Just whatever gave you any idea I'd stand for this?
- Ellie
Hey now, wait a minute. Let's get this straightened out right now. If you're nursing any silly notion that I'm interested in you, forget it. You're just a headline to me.
- Peter Warne
A headline? You're not a newspaper man are you?
- Ellie
Chalk up one for your side.
- Peter Warne
Oh, er, do you mind if I ask you a question, frankly? Do you love my daughter?
- Alexander Andrews
Any guy that'd fall in love with your daughter ought to have his head examined.
- Peter Warne
Now that's an evasion!
- Alexander Andrews
She picked herself a perfect running mate -- King Westley -- the pill of the century! What she needs is a guy that'd take a sock at her once a day, whether it's coming to her or not. If you had half the brains you're supposed to have, you'd done it yourself, long ago.
- Peter Warne
Do you love her?
- Alexander Andrews
You know, there's nothing I like better than to meet a high-class mama that can snap back at you, 'cause the colder they are, the hotter they get! That's what I always say, yes sir! When a cold mama gets hot, boy, how she sizzles!
- Oscar Shapeley
Why didn't you take off all your clothes? You could have stopped forty cars.
- Peter Warne
Well, ooo, I'll remember that when we need forty cars.
- Ellie
I never did like the idea of sitting on newspaper. I did it once, and all the headlines came off on my white pants. On the level! It actually happened. Nobody bought a paper that day. They just followed me around over town and read the news on the seat of my pants.
- Peter Warne

Trivia

Myrna Loy turned down the role of Ellie Andrews because a recent film set on a bus had failed, and she didn't think that this one would succeed.

'Clark Gable' , who was on contract with MGM, was on loan to Columbia (a less prestigious studio at the time) as a punishment for his raucous off-camera behavior.

At the Miami bus station, friends of Peter Warne (Clark Gable) refer to him as "the King" - Gable's nickname in real life.

The scene in which Clark Gable removes his shirt is credited as the number one cause for not only the decrease in undershirt sales for the following two years, but the implementation of product placements in movies to come.

Friz Freleng's unpublished memoirs mention that It Happened One Night was one of his favorite films, and that it contains at least three things upon which the character "Bugs Bunny" was based: - The character Oscar Shapely's (Roscoe Karns) personality - The manner in which Peter Warren (Clark Gable) was eating carrots and talking quickly at the same time - An imaginary character mentioned once to frighten Oscar Shapely named "Bugs Dooley."

Notes

The working title for this film was Night Bus, and it was to have starred Robert Montgomery, who was Frank Capra's original choice for the part of Peter Warne. Montgomery was replaced by Clark Gable, who was borrowed from M-G-M, while Claudette Colbert was borrowed from Paramount. In Capra's autobiography, he states that he variously sought Myrna Loy, Margaret Sullavan, Miriam Hopkins and Constance Bennett for the role of Ellie Andrews before selecting Colbert. A Daily Variety news item noted that part of the film was shot on location at Busch Gardens in Pasadena, CA. According to a Hollywood Reporter news item, Columbia produced a special trailer to publicize the film. The trailer had "a special cast of players," "a unique script of fourteen scenes" and was distributed by National Screen; however, no other specific information about the trailer has been found.
       It Happened One Night was the first film to win Oscars in the five major categories, Best Picture, Best Direction, Best Screenplay, Best Actor and Best Actress (Colbert was the first French-born actress to receive the honor). It was voted one of the ten best pictures of 1934 by the Film Daily Poll of Critics and the National Board of Review, and on March 20, 1939, Gable and Colbert performed a radio version of it for the Lux Radio Theater.
       Although he is uncredited on the film, Capra is given credit in many modern sources for co-authoring the scenario. In his autobiography, Capra credits his friend Myles Connolly with suggesting that he rewrite the script to make the characters more sympathetic. A modern source states that one of the auto lodges featured in the film is located at the Redwood Lodge (now the Conejo Lodge) in Thousand Oaks, CA. In his autobiography, photographer Joseph Walker describes locations at the RKO ranch in Encino and in Sunland, both of which are in the San Fernando Valley. Modern sources list two additional cast members, Hal Price and Charles Hall, both of whom played reporters, and Mary Wiggins, who was Colbert's stunt double for the dive off of Andrews' yacht. In an interview filmed for the 1975 feature Bugs Bunny Superstar, with Warner Bros. animation director Bob Clampett, he states that he based Bugs Bunny's characteristic carrot-munching technique on the scene in It Happened One Night in which Gable chomps on a carrot. According to a New York Times article on how films can effect business, the scene in which Gable undresses and reveals that he is not wearing an undershirt adversely effected the sales of undershirts throughout the nation, but no other information has been located to confirm this. Although many films are called "remakes" of It Happened One Night in modern sources, only the 1956 musical You Can't Run Away from It, produced at Columbia, directed by Dick Powell and starring Jack Lemmon and June Allyson, was based on the same short story and used the same screenplay (with adaptations) as the Capra film.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1973

Released in United States 1978

Released in United States February 13, 1991

Released in United States May 2001

Released in United States on Video 1987

Released in United States Winter February 1, 1934

Re-released in United States on Video February 13, 1996

Shown at Cannes International Film Festival (Retrospective) May 9-20, 2001.

Shown at Pacific Film Archive (Comedy, American Style) in Berkeley, CA February 13, 1991.

Selected in 1993 for inclusion in the Library of Congress' National Film Registry.

Released in United States 1973 (Shown at FILMEX: Los Angeles International Film Exposition (The Great American Films) November 15 - December 16, 1973.)

Released in United States 1978 (Shown at FILMEX: Los Angeles International Film Exposition (Special Programs - "Salute to Oscar" - Filmex Marathon) April 13 - May 7, 1978.)

Released in United States on Video 1987

Released in United States Winter February 1, 1934

Released in United States February 13, 1991 (Shown at Pacific Film Archive (Comedy, American Style) in Berkeley, CA February 13, 1991.)

Re-released in United States on Video February 13, 1996

Released in United States May 2001 (Shown at Cannes International Film Festival (Retrospective) May 9-20, 2001.)