50. 'It Happened One Night' (1934)
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I am always in the mood for Frank Capra's perfect little movie; even at 79
years old, "It Happened One Night" remains the gold standard of romantic comedy.
It still seems to glow. And spark; the sexual tension between Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert is phenomenal.
They play opposites attracting on the road from Florida to New York; she Ellie
Andrews, the sheltered heiress fleeing her father for the inappropriate man she
impulsively married; he Peter Warne the scrappy newspaper man looking for an
exclusive ("You're just a headline to me"). While she imperiously calls him
"young man," he calls her "brat," first scornfully and then as the hours go by,
more fondly, until they're both goners.
Bing: See video from 'It Happened One Night'
The first time I watched was with my mother on our old black and white
television. She must have been revisiting her girlhood, while I was visiting my
future womanhood, when I'd imagined I'd spar with a man with dimples, charm and
a vast knowledge of donut dipping, hitchhiking and ways to make me happy (yeah
right, there's only one Clark Gable). The last time I watched it was five
minutes ago. I thought I'd just get a sweet reminder, but a taste is never
enough with this movie. — Mary Pols (Clark Gable and Claudette
Colbert in "It Happened One Night"/Courtesy Everett Collection/Rex