Last night we saw American Madness and It Happened One Night. Both 1930's movies directed by Frank R. Capra. Our friend, Sam, joined us for the first movie.
American Madness (1932)
The plot was very good and the movie was extremely entertaining. I used to shudder at the idea of watching black and white movies and now I found it quite charming. Less of a distraction if I am thinking about how obnoxious the color of some guy's suit is, etc. I loved the clothes the men and women wore, except for Phyllis Dickinson's (Kay Johnson) mink coat. That was gross, the feet and heads of the minks were still attached, ugh!
Set during the Great Depression Tom Dickinson (Walter Huston) has to save his bank without losing his values and integrity. He battles time, his wife's desire for more attention, his love of the American worker and the board of directors' desires. Walter Huston was amazing in his role, truly made the movie what it was. Any other actor wouldn't have done it for me.
The acting was fabulous. I loved it when the inspector appeared on the scene, he was amusing. The scenes with the board of directors was hilarious. The scene of Matt confronting Cluett at his home was intense and exciting. I enjoyed many of the side scenes for their amusement or for the emotions they provoked.
I don't believe the interaction of Mrs. Dickinson's disappointment with her husband was portrayed very well. This was written and directed by men, I doubt a woman was consulted. I think it was obvious that Cluett was not straight so was it supposed to be funny when he hit on Mrs. Dickinson or was he just not as good as an actor? The black shoe-shiner scene was ridiculous. If you are just going to make fun of black people then why have them in the movie at all? The loose ends were tied up rather quickly and that made me raise an eyebrow. Oh, and what happened with the ten dollars that Matt kept asking to borrow so his girlfriend wouldn't find out?
It Happened One Night (1934) Romantic Comedy
This was my first Clark Gable film and I love him immensely! His voice and mannerisms were extremely well done and in this type of movie the two main actors had to be strong in order for it to be pulled off. Gable played Peter Warne who's strong opinions, moodiness and ready for action clearly made the movie hilarious and dramatic. He played a reporter who was a gentleman and was honorable to the last principle. He took care of the young runaway, made sure she was safe, warm and fed and was selfless in his own actions. He sold some of his things to help her and while doing so totally fell for her. One of my favorite parts was how he handed her a pair of his pajamas and hung up a rope to throw a blanket over it so they could feel at ease to sleep each night.
Claudette Colbert played the young runaway, Ellen Andrews with just as much hilarity as Gable. However she came off as very young when in the beginning she stated she was 21. I felt that she was portrayed as too helpless with a stubborn streak. If she really had that stubborn streak, she wouldn't have been so helpless. It was a cute theme and probably made a bunch of men want girls like that. I wish I could be a girl like that but the real fear of it all is that there aren't many men like Warne who would truly be selfless and take care of a woman in that way out there anymore. Thus, women have grown to feel like they need to be independent and fend for themselves. So when a man tries to be selfless a woman becomes confused and usually strikes out at the man in her fear and confusion causing him to feel rejection and then he does leave the woman to her own devices. This leaves the woman to feel like she is right to try to maintain independence. It is a tangled web we weave.
Anyway, I was not expecting to see such a great romantic comedy coming from 1934! It was hilarious and captivating. I actually think that no other romantic comedy compares (please challenge this if you have another movie to suggest). As annoying as a helpless woman can be, the movie was hilarious and very logical in the events that occurred.
This was the first film to win all five academy awards (Best Picture, Actor, Actress, Director and Screenplay). The only two to win the same five awards since was One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) and Silence of the Lambs (1991).
Casting done well. I heard that Gable was "loaned" to this set because he was being paid by his station for doing nothing so they sent him over. The scenes of people riding on the bus or Peter and Ellen in the car were hilarious. I really enjoyed all of the problems they faced as they tried to get to New York undetected.
In addition to what I said above would have to include another ridiculous scene with the black man with a bell. *shakes head*
I thought I'd include a snippet of what we saw. I hope to see it again sometime, it was really delightful, we left the theater and walked back to the car very happy. I usually leave a movie totally bogged down by special effects, too many subplots and scenes which I am drained from having experienced the movie. I'd have to say that last night was wonderful, refreshing and light.