Thursday, April 26, 2012

Brandon's Movie Pick #2: It Happened One Night

Ken O is currently away from the ship’s helm while he takes care of his wife and brand new son. During that time we are forgoing our normal updates for something special. Every month Turner Classic Movies has a Guest Programmer who chooses the films they show for that night. For 9 days we’ll be acting as we were the Guest Programmer. So you’ll get 3 movies from me, 3 from Brandon, and 3 from our guest writer Michael May! A huge thank you goes out to Michael May; please go check out his Adventure Blog.

My second pick is Frank Capra’s “It Happened One Night”. This fantastic flick is commonly called the first “screwball” comedy. It stars the always amazing Clark Gable and the lovely Claudette Colbert, as two unlikely partners in a road trip from Miami to New York. Colbert plays Ellie Andrews, a spoiled rich girl that recently married a high society aviator but was whisked away by her unapproving father to Miami. She runs away and hops a bus back to New York when she runs into a down on his luck newspaper man Peter Warne played by Gable. Warne figures out who she is and makes a deal, you get back to New York and I get an amazing story. Along the way they get to know one another and eventually fall in love. That’s right folks, one of my favorite all time movies is a romantic comedy.

This movie has it all it is funny, clever, and sweet. Plus it has an autogyro. Bam! Gable shines as the wisecracking news man, a first for Clark as he was always the suave leading man. You can tell on every frame that he is having a blast on the set. Colbert is beautiful and charming; however she was not having such a good time. As much as I love this film a lot of the behind the scenes shenanigans are a lot of fun to know about as well. At the time of casting Colbert six other actresses had turned down the role. She told Capra that the only way she would take the part was if it could be shot in 4 weeks and that her normal salary of $25,000 be doubled. Capra and Columbia Pictures agreed and thus the stage was set. It was reported that Colbert complained every day on set and was having a miserable time. On screen you can’t tell at all, she was a professional when the cameras were rolling. At the end of filming she was overheard telling a friend that she had just finished the worst picture of her career. 

Upon release the audience reaction was huge; they loved it and saw it over and over again. That year at the Oscars it was nominated for all five big awards – Best Actor, Actress, Director, Screenplay and Picture. This was the first film in history to bag the “Grand Slam” by winning all five statues. At the ceremony Colbert, who was talked into even attending and not leaving on vacation early, accepted her award by just saying “Thank you” and walking away. She then turned back to the mic and said “This is due to Frank” referring to the director. She knew that perhaps she made a mistake during filming.

Legend has it that Bugs Bunny was based on an amalgam of a few characters in this film. His carrot eating and fast talking came from Gable’s Warne, and his famous “What’s up, Doc” was adapted from a side character calling Warne “Doc” on the bus. A second legend is that during the filming of the undressing scene Gable was having lots of trouble with his undershirt and could not get it off while delivering his dialog. At the end of the day he shot the scene sans undershirt and it worked out. This started a trend of men leaving the undershirts at home in real life. It is said that this caused a few underwear manufactures to sue Columba for damages. Damn I love old Hollywood. Stay tuned for my third and last pick.

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