Like All About Eve and The Philadelphia Story before it, It Happened One Night has me smitten. Quick witted, fast-paced dialogue combined with charming performances make an otherwise conventional romantic comedy a joy to watch.
The plot is predictable and transparent, make no mistake – it’s execution makes the best impact. Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert have excellent chemistry, and Colbert’s got gumpshun oozing from every pore. My ultimate make or break for rom coms are the female leads – So long as they’ve got swag, I’m sold!
The only issue I take with either of them is with Gable – he’s a terrible misogynist, in spite of his romantic interludes. Alas, this comes with the territory of the times. Women were what they were – still somehow subhuman. That’s why attitude and sass are so integral to my enjoyment of these films. Without it, they’re little more than little girls being bread for breeding, raised on false hopes of Cinderella stories and fulfillment through domesticity. Betty Friedan would not be pleased.
But I’m not looking at this through feminist lenses. I’m well aware of the problematic subtext of films such as these, but the purpose of this exercise isn’t to strip away the magic and romanticism behind cinema, nor is it to blindly embrace it. I hope to enjoy these films, and acknowledge their relevance within cinematic history. Here we have a film that, for all intents and purposes, should be vapid and senseless. It isn’t. That in itself is an accomplishment.
This post was originally published on my tumblr on April 15, 2012.