It Happened One Night
Clark Gable became a heartthrob star opposite platinum blond Jean Harlow in 1932’s steamy Red Dust, but his turn in this scrappy 1934 romantic comedy from Harry Cohn’s then low-rent Columbia Pictures won him an Oscar. Gable’s plucky, charming Peter Warne is a freelance (read: unemployed) reporter determined to fish out the exclusive story of why coddled heiress Ellie Andrews (Claudette Colbert) is on the lam from both her father and her fortune-hunting husband. Their journey takes them by bus, foot, hitchhiking, and into a motor hotel, during which time the two sparring personalities realize they just might be in love (awww). It Happened One Night is the prototypical successful screwball comedy—the first movie to sweep the Oscars—although the era’s best directors would crank up the dialogue’s snap and plot’s absurdities to make the comedy really crackle. As is, Night catches icons Gable and Colbert early enough in their careers where they let themselves be silly. If only investigative reporting was really this much wacky fun.