Box art for It Happened One Night

It Happened One Night

drama, romance

When heiress Ellie Andrews (CLAUDETTE COLBERT) weds gigolo King Westly, she's kidnapped by her unhappy father, who hopes to get the marriage annulled.

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

  • Critic Score
  • Audience Score

common sense

ON for kids age 10
0 out of 5
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
2 out of 5
1 out of 5
Positive messages
1 out of 5
Positive role models
0 out of 5
1 out of 5
1 out of 5

Still one of the best screwball comedies.

what parents need to know

Parents need to know that in this funny and sophisticated early black-and-white romantic comedy, the behavior of the leading male and female characters reflects a gender inequality that was the norm for its time. The strong, dashing hero protects (and even babies) the vulnerable, needy "poor little rich girl." He calls her "brat," tells her to "shut up." She smiles and falls even harder for his brash charms. A fierce argument results in a father slapping his adult daughter in the face. There are flirtatious moments, "winks" to sexuality as the hero and heroine hang a blanket between them in a lodge room and undress on either side of it. Drinking and drunkenness are played for fun in several scenes, with slurred speech and back-slapping male camaraderie. Almost everyone smokes.

what families can talk about

  • Families can talk about how comedies have changed and remained the same since this 1934 film. How has slang changed? Can you figure out the meanings of unfamiliar phrases or words?
  • What do you think about how men and women are portrayed in this movie? What kinds of stereotypes are present? How have things changed in society and in movies since 1934 when this film was released?

movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

Top Critic Reviews

Fresh: This is Capra at his best, very funny and very light, with a minimum of populist posturing.

- Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader, Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Fresh: An old school classic.

- David Parkinson, Empire Magazine, Thursday, June 24, 2010

Fresh: This charming romantic comedy, while grounded in the context of the Depression, offered light fare that's uncharacteristic of Capra. It might have been the first true sleeper since no one involved anticipated such critical and commercial success.

- Emanuel Levy, EmanuelLevy.Com, Thursday, June 24, 2010

Audience Reviews

5 stars

Hilarious! It deserved all the Oscars it got. Exceptional chemistry between Gable and Colbert. Iconic dialogue and scenes that bring images of Loony Tunes to mind.

- hypathio7, Tuesday, September 28, 2010

4 stars

Peter Warne: A simple story about simple people. Often credited as the first romantic screwball comedy, this is a great film that easily holds up to today. The lead performances are wonderful due to how charmingly smug Gable is and the banter between him and Colbert; the story is simple but it delivers; and its a very funny movie. Classic comedy premise: A rebellious socialite, Ellie Andrews played by Claudette Colbert, marries King Wesley but her wealthy father has it annulled. Tired of her father's control, Ellie runs away by diving off the family yacht in Miami and heading for New York. On the bus she meets street-smart reporter Peter Warne, played by Clark Gable. They end up traveling together as Peter hopes to get a great story, and Ellie needs his worldly help. Nearing New York, with their many adventures coming to an end, they find that they are reluctantly in love and afraid to admit it to each other. Peter Warne: I never did like the idea of sitting on newspapers. I did it once, and all the headlines came off on my white pants. On the level! It actually happened. Nobody bought a paper that day. They just followed me around over town and read the news on the seat of my pants. This movie is just damn entertaining. Nearly everything comes together perfectly. The chemistry is just right, complete with strong, witty dialogue, a fun pace, keeping the film moving from place to place as our heroes trek up to New York, and a solid amount of humor and fun throughout the whole film. Certainly a strong classic that should be watched by anyone who is a fan of comedies or rom coms and is able to resist the urge of the most of the lame mainstream rom coms coming out today. Ellie Andrews: Your ego is absolutely colossal. Peter Warne: Yeah, yeah, not bad, how's yours?

- DrZeek, Thursday, June 3, 2010

4 stars

Awesome! Love it! This movie is as good as its reputation..

- citawijaya, Saturday, February 6, 2010