January 2014 Blind Spot: It Happened One Night (1934)

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Ok, it’s my first Blind Spot Film of the year. I don’t know why it took me so long to finally see this one, as it came highly recommended by so many people. The main draw for me here is to see Clark Gable in something other than Gone With the Wind as that’s the only film I’ve seen him in. It’s also the second Frank Capra film since It’s A Wonderful Life.

Now that I’ve seen the film, I noticed how similar the storyline is to Roman Holiday, but instead of a princess, the female protagonist is a spoiled heiress who’s running away from her father (Walter Connolly) who disapproves  her nuptial to a society aviator. Claudette Colbert has quite a spunk as Ellie Andrews, though I have to admit it took me a while to warm up to her as her character is such a brat. At one point her dad slaps her and she certainly had it coming. Ellie promptly jumps off her dad’s yacht and later catches a bus to New York City to return to her husband. And that’s where the ‘meet cute’ happens.

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Gable’s Peter Warne is an out-of-work newspaper reporter. He’s made quite an effort to secure the last seat on the bus, only to have it ‘stolen’ by Ellie. The bantering between these two are pretty amusing, though it’s obvious they’re attracted to one another. When Warne recognizes who she is, he offers her two choices, one of which is that he’d blow the whistle on her whereabouts to her father. Needless to say, Ellie is stuck with Peter until he can help her get to NYC. Seriously, there are worse things than being stuck with Clark Gable!

One of the main highlights is when Peter rents a small motel for the two of them. It’s quite risque for those days to show a man being shirtless, which apparently happens because Gable kept having trouble removing his undershirt whilst keeping the dialog going, so Capra decided to forgo it. Apparently the undergarment industry was largely affected by this when people stopped buying undershirt as it was deemed cool to not to wear one. That’s mind-boggling how much power Hollywood had back in the day.

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With a set of clothesline and a blanket, Peter builds the ‘walls of Jericho’ between the two beds, which was also Capra’s idea because Colbert refused to undress in front of the camera. The two also puts on quite a show in the morning when two detectives knocked on their door looking for Ellie. Pretending to be a bickering married couple, it was the perfect bonding experience as their adventure is just beginning. Though it’s a completely different role from Rhett Butler, Gable’s certainly got the swagger and charm intact.

Interesting how this film’s success undoubtedly brings about the rom-com trend. We’ve become tired of that genre these days, as most of them are neither romantic nor comedic. I think You’ve Got Mail is a wonderful contemporary rom-com that adhere to a similar pattern, with the characters start out disliking each other. The key I think is in the chemistry of the two actors, and the wit in the dialog. So even if everything else about the film seems out of date, the story still holds up and the dialog still brings a smile to one’s face.

[after Ellie stops a car by showing her leg]
Ellie: Aren’t you going to give me a little credit?
Peter: What for?
Ellie: I proved once and for all that the limb is mightier than the thumb.
Peter: Why didn’t you take off all your clothes? You could have stopped forty cars.
Ellie: Well, ooo, I’ll remember that when we need forty cars.

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The story itself is pretty predictable. I knew at the end Ellie and Peter are going to be together, but I was still surprised by how they finally got reunited. Ellie’s father played a huge role in bringing them together, which is interesting in and of itself to see a parental figure having such a big part in the love story. In the finale, ‘walls of Jericho’ shows up again but only from the outside of the motel where presumably Ellie and Peter are now married. The sound of trumpet is heard as the walls is coming down. There are plenty of innuendos throughout, some are less subtle than others, but in this day and age where borderline pornographic content becomes ‘normal’ at the movies, it’s nice to see something THIS wholesome for a change.

ItHappenedOneNight_GableColbertWhat strikes me about this movie is the lack of any kissing scene between the two leads. I’d think the Hayes Code allowed kissing scene at the time, as Colbert did kiss Jameson Thomas who played her husband King Westley, so it made me wonder if it’s because Gable and Colbert didn’t get along during filming. All of the promos like the image on the right that suggest any kind of kissing scenes between these two are so misleading, there’s an almost kiss when the were at a barn, but that’s about it. According to IMDb Trivia, seems that neither of them were fond of making the film and didn’t think much about it. So I guess its massive success (both artistically and financially) was as huge a surprise to them as to everyone else.

So did I love this movie? Yes I did, and I’m glad I finally watched it. At the same time, I’m not as enamored with it as I did with say, Roman Holiday and Casablanca. It’s interesting that both of those films didn’t quite have a happy ending, which actually makes it even more romantic. There is something so beguiling and heart-wrenching to see unrequited love played out on screen. Another thing for me is the character Ellie itself, which is not entirely sympathetic. I mean, her rich dad worships her and she pretty much gets everything she wants. Even Roman Holiday‘s Princess Ann is far less spoiled than Ellie. Yes, Colbert makes her character fun to watch, but she’s not exactly my favorite classic characters.

Overall though, this one deserves the ‘essential classic’ status. It’s the first screwball romantic comedy that no doubt becomes the template for ‘opposites attract’ types of storyline. Of course, very few have such staying power like this one.

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This is the first entry to my 2014 Blind Spot Series, as first started by Ryan McNeil at The Matinee, and continued by Dan Heaton at Public Transportation Snob .

Here’s my full Blindspot List.


What do you think of It Happened One Night? I’d love to hear what you think!

MLK Weekend Roundup: a coming-of-age comedy, 1934 classic romance & a 1975 political thriller

MLKWashingtonHappy Monday all! It’s Martin Luther King Jr weekend here in the States and it’s a company holiday where I work, yay 😀 Another year and yet another snag in the long-overdue MLK biopic. I made this post last year about the status of the project that Paul Greengrass was once attached to. Well it turns out that Oliver Stone has now exited the project, taking to Twitter that his rewrite of the script, which dealt with “issues of adultery, conflicts within the movement, and King’s spiritual transformation” was not well received by producers. (per EW.com)

It’s really too bad as I’d love to see Dr. King’s biopic. Of course I realize he’s not a ‘saint’ as Stone said via Twitter nor do I expect him to be, but it doesn’t change the fact that he’s a great man who’s an inspiration to us all.

Now, though I didn’t go to the cinema this weekend, it’s been a wonderful movie catch-up for me. I saw The Way, Way Back on Friday which was pretty good despite the slow start.

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I LOVE Sam Rockwell who stole the film with his effortless charm, and newcomer Liam James is endearingly dorky in this coming-of-age comedy. It probably won’t have made my Top 10 list but certainly would factor in the Honorable Mention if I had seen it last year.

As for the two great classics I finally caught up with, one of them is on my Blindspot list and the other is a spy thriller that my friends have recommended me from time to time.

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I will have my full review of It Happened One Night (1934) on the last Tuesday of this month (1/28) for my Blindspot assignment but let me just say this film lives up to the hype! I’ve only seen Clark Gable as Rhett Butler in Gone With the Wind, so it’s nice to see a different side to him in this role. Practically everyone I’ve talked to adore this film and I could see why.

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On Saturday night, my hubby and I were in the mood for a spy thriller, having just seen Jack Ryan: The Shadow Recruit on Wednesday (review coming tomorrow). My hubby isn’t a huge fan of older films, but I managed to convince him to rent 3 Days of the Condor (1975) as I’ve heard great things about it. I quite like 70s thrillers like Dirty Harry, The Conversation and The French Connection, no wonder my friend Michael calls it his favorite decade for movies! I quite like this one, it’s more of a slow burn but has plenty of suspense in a whodunnit kind of story filled with political intrigue as well as sexual tension between Robert Redford and Faye Dunaway. It’s a smart thriller by Sydney Pollack, with a taut script and an intriguing ending where things aren’t tied up neatly with a bow. It’s loosely based on a novel by James Grady titled Six Days of the Condor.


So that’s my weekend roundup, folks. What did YOU see this weekend?

Gone with the Wind tribute – my five favorite scenes

IMDb is featuring Gone with the Wind‘s 70th anniversary edition today, complete with the lush Rhett/Scarlett bright red background. I already owned the 4-disc collector’s edition, but seeing the comprehensive anniversary set on the Warner Video site is enough to make me want to get another one!

Thanks to my late mother, I was exposed to this movie when I was a wee girl, probably around 12 or 13. Barely spoke any English, she pretty much had to interpret the gist of the story to me. But a movie like Gone with the Wind, with its rich history and cultural significance — not to mention the intricate love story — isn’t an easy movie to grasp for a teenybopper, save for the gorgeous scenery (by that I also mean Rhett Butler) and pretty costumes. Thus, it was later in college when I sort of discern what the movie was all about.

Here are some of my favorite scenes from this quintessential Hollywood epic that shall always remain timeless:

The library scene

The first of many whiny moments of Scarlett & Ashley. I reckon Scarlett never had a thing for bad boys, as the second Rhett rose up from the sofa, my heart went pit-a-pat. Gable epitomized the ‘charming bad boy’ to a tee, and he did it with such nonchalant grace that’s so swoon-worthy. Their relentless banters are one of the most delightful battle-of-the-sexes scenarios ever captured in cinema. (Sorry I couldn’t find a clip that can be embedded)

If God is my witness

The most iconic scene of the entire movie involving the non-human star of the movie that is Tara. It’d be scandalous to omit this from any GWTW favorite list. Sure it’s arguably cliched and emotionally-manipulative, but darn it, when that score came on and she stood against that breathtaking sunset framed by the giant oak tree, I always get goose-bumps!

You need kissing badly

The audacity of seducing — and proposing — a woman on her husband’s funeral is shocking even by today’s standard. But Rhett is so darn suave and charming, I almost wished I had been as fortunate as Scarlett to be on the receiving end of this tantalizing encounter.

Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn

There’s little wonder why this quote was voted as the #1 movie quote by the American Film Institute (out of 100), as well as the #2 of “The 100 Greatest Movie Lines” by Premiere magazine in 2007. But the line that precedes it is equally great:

Scarlett: No! I only know that I love you.
Rhett Butler: That’s your misfortune. [Rhett turns to walk down the stairs]

Even before he said the “I don’t give a damn” line, we know he’s made up his mind.

Melanie & Ashley reunited after the war

Unfortunately I couldn’t find the exact scene of Melanie running after Ashley and Scarlet’s expression as the two blissfully embraced and kissed. But it’s such a heart-wrenching yet sweet scene of what Scarlet is always jealous of Melanie for.


I probably don’t do this movie justice by listing only five scenes, so if you have other faves you’d like to share, let’s hear it!