The weekly challenge from Illustration Friday is “blanket“.
It Happened One Night is a 1934 romantic comedy, directed by Frank Capra, in which a pampered socialite tries to get out from under her father’s thumb, and falls in love with a roguish reporter. It is one of the most beloved comedies of all time (It was Friz Freling’s favorite film) and is responsible for bringing lowly Columbia Pictures out of what was known as “Poverty Row”.
Clark Gable, who was under contract to MGM, was on loan to Columbia Pictures, as a punishment for his raucous off-camera behavior. Columbia was considered a lesser studio at the time of the film’s release. Both MGM and Warner Brothers would loan out temperamental actors to Columbia as a “humbling experience.” After filming was completed, Claudette Colbert complained to a friend, “I just finished the worst picture in the world.”
Gable and Colbert weren’t the first choices for the picture. Robert Montgomery and Myrna Loy were originally offered the roles, but each turned the script down. The role of Ellie Andrews was also turned down by Miriam Hopkins, Margaret Sullavan, Constance Bennett and Loretta Young. Bette Davis wanted the role, but was under contract with Warner Brothers and refused to loan her. Carole Lombard was unable to accept, because of a schedule conflict.
Claudette Colbert agreed to appear only when her salary was doubled to $50,000 and on the condition that her part be completed in four weeks so she could take an already planned vacation. When Clark Gable showed up for work on the first day, he said grimly, “Let’s get this over with.”
Filming began in a tense atmosphere as Gable and Colbert were dissatisfied with the quality of the script. However, they established a friendly working relationship and found that the script was no worse than those of many of their earlier films.
It Happened One Nightbecame the first movie to win all five major Oscars Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Picture. (That’s a feat only achieved by two more pictures, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest in 1976 and The Silence of the Lambs in 1992.) Claudette Colbert disliked the film so much she didn’t even attend the Oscars; when she won for Best Actress she was found about to leave on a trip. She was pulled off of a train and rushed to the ceremony, where she made her acceptance speech in a traveling suit.
In the very famous “Walls of Jericho” scene, one of the highlights of the film, Gable divides the twin-bedded bedroom into two parts by stringing up a clothesline. Then, as he drapes a blanket over the line between their two beds, Colbert dryly observes: “That, I suppose, makes everything quite all right?” He explains, “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.”