It Happened One Night Overview:

It Happened One Night (1934) was a Comedy - Romance Film directed by Frank Capra and produced by Frank Capra and Harry Cohn.

The film was based on the short story Night Bus written by Samuel Hopkins Adams published in Cosmopolitan Magazine in August 1933.


Spoiled Ellie Andrews (Claudette Colbert) escapes from her millionaire father (Walter Connolly) who wants to annul her recent marriage to worthless playboy and fortune hunter King Westley (Jameson Thomas). With virtually no money in her pocket, Ellie boards a bus headed for New York City to re-unite with husband Westley, but en route, she gets involved with a recently-fired newspaper man, Peter Warne (Clark Gable), who gives her an ultimatum: either give him her exclusive story or he'll turn her over to her father. When their bus breaks down, the bickering couple set off on a madcap hitch-hiking expedition. Complications fly when the runaway heiress and brash reporter fall in love.

It Happened One Night was released on February 3, 1934 to moderate-to-indifferent reviews. But audiences across the country adored the film and made it the sleeper hit of the year. The first screwball comedy, it went on to sweep the Academy Awards, winning all five major Oscars: Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director and Best Screenplay.


Production of the $325,000 project began on November 13, 1933. Although Gable was initially reluctant to work on the film, he soon warmed up to Capra, and gave a charming performance, one that would forever cement his screen image as a breezy, good-natured man of the world (Capra would later say that Gable was merely playing himself). Colbert, however, was another story. Although she too gave a winning performance (and found her niche as a sophisticated screen comedienne), she did not want to make the film and continued to give Capra a difficult time throughout production. (When Capra asked her to expose her legs for the hitch-hicking scene, Colbert refused; it was only after Capra hired a body double for the close-up that she changed her mind -- "Get her out of here! I'll do it. That's not my leg.") After her scenes were completed, Colbert went on vacation to Sun Valley, where she told friends, "I've just finished the worst picture in the world." But it was Claudette Colbert who acknowledged exactly who was responsible for the film when, after accepting her Oscar for Best Actress, graciously told the Academy, "I owe Frank Capra for this."


It Happened One Night was inducted into the National Film Registry in 1993.

Academy Awards 1934 --- Ceremony Number 7 (source: AMPAS)

Best ActorClark GableWon
Best ActressClaudette ColbertWon
Best DirectorFrank CapraWon
Best PictureColumbiaWon
Best WritingRobert RiskinWon

BlogHub Articles:

It Happened One Night (1934): Carrots and The Walls of Jericho

By 4 Star Film Fan on Jul 20, 2021 From 4 Star Films

When I was growing up we had a VHS of Warner Bros. Bugs Bunny cartoons and like any lad my age, he was an immediate sensation. Casual, mischievous, and yet generally good-natured and out-and-out hilarious. I had no concept of cartoon logic and what made him so memorable as a cartoon character; you d... Read full article

Pre-Code Crazy: It Happened One Night (1934)

By shadowsandsatin on May 5, 2019 From Shadows and Satin

My Pre-Code Crazy pick for this month is a film that I?d bet money you?ve all seen already ? It Happened One Night (1934). And if you haven?t, I?m absolutely certain you?ve seen a clip of its most famous scene, where Claudette Colbert succeeds in flagging down a passing car by flashing one of her sh... Read full article

It Happened One Night: Blueprint of Romantic Comedy

By Emily on Apr 29, 2015 From The Vintage Cameo

Some classic movies sound good in theory, yet tend to wallow on Must See lists and Netflix queues rather than actual screens, as the timing may just never feel?quite right to sit down and watch?a heady 3 hour epic or a cerebral foreign drama. And then there are movies like It Happened One Night, whi... Read full article

It Happened One Night (1934) with Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert

By Greg Orypeck on Feb 12, 2015 From Classic Film Freak

Share This! Two great lovers of the screen in the grandest of romantic comedies! So?when or where did it happen?? Certainly not in Brooklyn as it did for Frank Sinatra and Kathryn Grayson in 1947.? Nor in Athens for Jayne Mansfield fifteen years later?wrong continent.? As for a season of the year, n... Read full article

It Happened One Night (1934) with Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert

By Greg Orypeck on Feb 12, 2015 From Classic Film Freak

Share This! Two great lovers of the screen in the grandest of romantic comedies! So?when or where did it happen?? Certainly not in Brooklyn as it did for Frank Sinatra and Kathryn Grayson in 1947.? Nor in Athens for Jayne Mansfield fifteen years later?wrong continent.? As for a season of the year, n... Read full article

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Quotes from

[Peter hangs a blanket between the twin beds in their room at the autocamp]
Ellie Andrews: That, I suppose, makes everything quite all right?
Peter Warne: Oh this? Well, I like privacy when I retire. Yes, I'm very delicate in that respect. Prying eyes annoy me. Behold the walls of Jericho! Uh, maybe not as thick as the ones that Joshua blew down with his trumpet, but a lot safer. You see, uh, I have no trumpet. Now just to show you my heart's in the right place, I'll give you my best pair of pajamas.
[he offers her the pajamas - she ignores them - so he tosses them at her]
Peter Warne: Uh, do you mind joining the Israelites?
[indicates he wants her to go on the other side of the blanket - she doesn't budge]
Peter Warne: You don't want to join the Israelites? Alright.
[he begins to undress]
Peter Warne: Perhaps you're interested in how a man undresses. You know, it's a funny thing about that. Quite a study in psychology. No two men do it alike. You know, I once knew a man who kept his hat on until he was completely undressed. Yeah, now he made a picture. Years later, his secret came out. He wore a toupee. Yeah. You know, I have a method all my own. If you notice, the coat came first, then the tie, then the shirt. Now, uh, according to Hoyle, after that, the, uh, pants should be next. There's where I'm different... I go for the shoes next. First the right, then the left. After that it's, uh, every man for himself.
[he starts to unbuckle his pants and she runs to the other side of the blanket]

[Peter is carrying Ellie across the creek slung over his shoulder]
Ellie Andrews: You know this is the first time in years I've ridden piggy-back.
Peter Warne: This isn't piggy-back.
Ellie Andrews: Course it is.
Peter Warne: You're crazy.
Ellie Andrews: I remember distinctly my father taking me for a piggy-back ride.
Peter Warne: And he carried you like this, I suppose?
Ellie Andrews: Yes.
Peter Warne: Your father didn't know beans about piggy-back riding.
Ellie Andrews: My uncle, mother's brother, has four children and I've seen them ride piggy-back.
Peter Warne: I'll bet there isn't a good piggy-back rider in your whole family. I never knew a rich man yet who could piggy-back ride.
Ellie Andrews: You're prejudiced.
Peter Warne: You show me a good piggy-backer and I'll show you a real human. Now you take Abraham Lincoln for instance. A natural born piggy-backer. Where do you get all of that stuffed-shirt family of yours?
Ellie Andrews: My father was a great piggy-backer.
Peter Warne: Here, hold this.
[Peter hands to Ellie the case he was carrying and slaps her behind for that remark]

Ellie Andrews: What is it that we're supposed to be doing again?
Peter Warne: Hitchhiking.
Ellie Andrews: Well you've shown me an excellent example of the hiking part. When does the hitching come in?

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Facts about

The unpublished memoirs of animator Friz Freleng mention that It Happened One Night was one of his favorite films. It has been claimed that it helped inspire the cartoon character Bugs Bunny. Three things in the film may have coalesced to create Bugs: the personality of a minor character, Oscar Shapely, an imaginary character named "Bugs Dooley" mentioned once to frighten Shapely, and most of all, a scene in which Clark Gable eats carrots while talking quickly with his mouth full, as Bugs does.
Robert Montgomery and Myrna Loy were offered the roles of Ellie and Peter in It Happened One Night, but each turned the script down, though Loy later noted that the final story as filmed bore little resemblance to the script that she and Montgomery and been offered for their perusal.
Holds the record along with The Last Emperor and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) of winning all the awards in every single category in which was nominated at the Academy Awards including best picture.
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Best Picture Oscar 1934

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National Film Registry

It Happened One Night

Released 1934
Inducted 1993

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Also directed by Frank Capra

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Also produced by Frank Capra

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Also released in 1934

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