Production Company: Columbia Pictures Corporation
Distributor: Columbia Pictures
Top Billed Actors: Clark Gable, Claudette Colbert, Walter Connolly
IMDb Rating: 8.2
*Best Picture Nominee*
Won 5 Oscars:
Best Director - Frank Capra
Best Actor - Clark Gable
Best Actress - Claudette Colbert
Best Writing (Adapted) - Robert Riskin
Nominated for 0 more
Plot: A spoiled brat runs away and travels with a newspaperman while the walls of Jericho crumble down every step of the way
I can go on forever about the trivia (see the connection between this movie and Bugs Bunny) and accolades this picture holds (see the various AFI lists). But what makes it so revered in film history? For one, the chemistry between Gable and Colbert is simply amazing. The progression both characters make, as individuals and as a couple, is beautiful to see on the screen. We see the famous "walls of Jericho" scene, in which Gable puts a blanket on a rope in the motel room for Colbert's privacy. This occurs early on in the journey to New York from Miami. Throughout the story, the metaphor of these walls of Jericho come crumbling down as they both fall for each other. What is so great about this, is it happens naturally and without any mushy love scenes to jam it down the viewers' throats. The closest we get is Colbert professing her love and Gable waiting until the next morning to act upon it. Capra handles everything so well even though the actors were reluctant to do the picture. We get classic scenes, such as the hitchhiking bit in which Colbert stops a car with her leg. In fact, each scene becomes a classic in its own right. I found similarities between this film and so many other stories in modern times. Mimicry and parody are definitely flattering, Mr. Capra.
Only a couple of things hold it back. For one, the lack of music took the movie back a step. Perhaps only the major studios could afford the equipment to cost-effectively put in a score or perhaps this was Capra's style at the time. Regardless, the movie seemed rather quiet at times. Gable and Colbert was able to carry the load, but I wish some music would accompany them. Another gripe is the screwball aspect of it. One liners and gags dated the movie, which takes a little of that "timeless" adjective we all like to use on classic films. A couple of jokes uttered by Gable just lose its appeal to a modern audience.
Overall, the first Big Five winner is certainly a whale of a feature. Capra, Gable, and Colbert combine for a wondrous ride on the night bus. More music and less one liners would have slightly improved it, but it is still on top of the 1930s pile.
My Score: 8/10