Posted by Larry Gleeson

I had seen The Thin Man (1934) at the Fabulous Fox in St. Louis on Classic Film Monday. Organist Stan Khan came up playing classic tunes on the stage lift as it ascended before the film’s screening. Years later I had enrolled in a Film Genres film studies class with the Santa Barbara International Film Festival Director Roger Durling as the instructor. As Professor Durling lectured on It Happened One Night (at this point I hadn’t seen the film), I couldn’t believe this film won the Oscar for Best Picture over my beloved Thin Man. Mind you I hadn’t seen It Happened One Night, yet. Needless to say, I saw It Happened One Night and I understood. The film is the first of only three films to ever win Oscars® in the five major categories – Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director, Best Picture and Best Screenplay. The other two members of this exclusive club are ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST and SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, both fixtures on AFI’s lists of the greatest American films. 

It Happened One Night appears on four of AFI’s lists of the greatest America films – including #8 on AFI’s 100 Years…100 Laughs, which chronicles the funniest films ever to grace the silver screen.

Here’s an exclusive clip from the AFI Archive of Cameron Crowe talking about IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT.

Interesting Facts

Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert performed a radio version of IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT in 1939. The host for the radio broadcast was iconic film director Cecil B. DeMille. 

The working title for IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT was “Night Bus” – and it was to have starred Robert Montgomery, who was Frank Capra’s original choice for the part of Peter Warne. 

Director Frank Capra sought Myrna Loy, Margaret Sullavan, Miriam Hopkins and Constance Bennett for the role of Ellie Andrews before selecting Claudette Colbert.  

In an interview filmed for the 1975 feature BUGS BUNNY SUPERSTAR, Warner Bros. animation director Bob Clampett states that he based Bugs Bunny’s characteristic carrot-munching technique on the scene in IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT in which Gable chomps on a carrot.   

AFI Trustee Steven Spielberg anonymously purchased Clark Gable’s Oscar® statuette for $607,500 to protect it from commercial exploitation. He donated it back to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences – saying that there was “no better sanctuary for Gable’s only Oscar® than the Motion Picture Academy.” 


The movie doesn’t end at the credits. Engage with your family, friends and others like you who love the movies. Check out the AFI Movie Club Discussion Questions for this movie and post your responses in the comment section!

-What were some the moments or scenes that made you laugh? 

-IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT is considered the first screwball comedy. What is your favorite screwball comedy? Can you name any modern-day screwball comedies? 

-Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert had long careers in Hollywood. What are some of their other films that rank among your favorites? 

-Opposites attract in IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT. What other films and film couples come to mind when you think of romance between conflicting personalities? 

-IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT came out more that 85 years ago, why is it still beloved today? What other films do you like that are more than 50 years old? 

-How would you rate IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT? 

About AFI Movie Club

I hope the AFI Movie Club brings some inspiration and entertainment during this uncertain time. AFI has created a global, virtual gathering of those who love the movies where each day’s film – announced by a special guest – is accompanied by fun facts, family-friendly discussion points and material from the AFI Archive to bring the viewing experience to life. As a non-profit, AFI Movie Club is a member-powered organization, dependent upon the support of its movie fans. To support AFI Movie Club please consider becoming a member or donating.

AFI Movie Club is a newly launched free program to raise the nation’s spirits by bringing artists and audiences together – even while we are apart. AFI shines a spotlight on an iconic movie each day, with special guests announcing the Movie of the Day. Audiences can “gather” at AFI.com/MovieClub to find out how to watch the featured movie of the day with the use of their preexisting streaming service credentials. The daily film selections will be supported by fun facts, family discussion points and exclusive material from the AFI Archive to enrich the viewing experience.


(Source: AFI News Release)




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