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Blu-ray Review It Happened One Night Blu-ray Review

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Matt Hough, Nov 22, 2014.

  1. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Director
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    XenForo Template It Happened One Night Blu-ray Review

    Sometimes known as the father of screwball comedy and one of the most enjoyable and charming romantic comedies ever put on film, Frank Capra’s It Happened One Night still delights eighty years after first transporting audiences with its quirky, identifiable characters and wispy, ever-engaging narrative. The film still holds up beautifully after all these years, and its achievement of being the first film to ever win the top five Academy Awards still makes sense today even considering it was up against The Gay Divorcee and The Thin Man (both of which went into Oscar night as the frontrunners) as well as The Barretts of Wimpole Street, Cleopatra (which also starred one of Night’s leading players), and Imitation of Life (again, Miss Colbert) which had all been tremendous hits.


    Cover Art


    Studio: Criterion

    Distributed By: N/A

    Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC

    Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1

    Audio: English PCM 1.0 (Mono)

    Subtitles: English SDH

    Rating: Not Rated

    Run Time: 1 Hr. 45 Min.

    Package Includes: Blu-ray

    keep case

    Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)

    Region: A

    Release Date: 11/18/2014

    MSRP: $39.95




    The Production Rating: 5/5

    Spoiled heiress Ellie Andrews (Claudette Colbert) escapes from her father’s (Walter Connolly) yacht after her elopement trying to return to her new husband King Westley (Jameson Thomas), but he’s in New York, and she’s in Miami so with airplanes and trains unthinkable due to her father’s watchdogs, she boards a night bus. There she meets enterprising reporter Peter Warne (Clark Gable). They clash almost immediately, but once he realizes he’s sitting on the story of the year, he agrees to work with her to get to New York in secret for the exclusive rights to their story. Their road trip takes days, and the couple shares many adventures falling in love along the way, but there’s that pesky unconsummated marriage to deal with along with Peter’s aversion to the snobbish elite and their belief that money is a cure for everything.

    Robert Riskin’s screenplay brilliantly makes both of the movie’s protagonists rather unlikable in the beginning (she’s entitled and he’s a brash know-it-all), allowing the viewer to gradually succumb to their individual charms as they encounter one conflict after another and deal with them with intelligence, humor, and lots of pluck. Though both stars won Oscars for their sparkling performances, the film really gives Clark Gable the showcase to display the innocent charm and boyish charisma buried under his more virulent and sometimes humorless performances back at his home studio MGM. For example, during the film, he gives proper instructions on everything from undressing to correct doughnut dunking, piggybacking, and (most famously) hitchhiking. Her first encounters with real world situations couldn’t have a more engaging and cheerful guide (even if she does have a few tricks of her own to show off). Joseph Walker's shimmering, effervescent cinematography makes this one of the most engaging of all the road movies presenting commonplace geographical areas like a creek or a barn, all of which fairly glisten with appeal under his watchful cinematic eye. As is the case in so many of his movies, director Frank Capra keeps his eye on the common man including a lengthy interlude on the bus as the passengers all bond while singing “The Man on the Flying Trapeze” and introducing the traveling couple to a motley crew of individuals, some accommodating, some calculating, some downright devious, but all memorable. But the movie is filled with memorable moments including the construction and destruction of “the walls of Jericho,” a witty and sophisticated way to present romantic comedy without even one kiss or any scenes of carnal sexuality.

    The two stars really have a spark between them which allows a beautifully modulated and completely believable growing attachment between the duo which pulls the audience right along with their shenanigans from beginning to end. Walter Connolly offers some fine comic bluster as the millionaire demanding immediate action with his every whim, and Charles Wilson almost matches him as the put-upon newspaper editor having to deal with the erratic Warne. Along the way, rascals like Roscoe Karns’ Shapeley and especially Alan Hale’s Danker add some fun and surprises for the couple. Jameson Thomas is all smarmy unctuousness as King Westley, and, yes, that’s young Ward Bond as a bus driver who gets one-upped by the lippy Gable early in the movie.



    Video Rating: 4.5/5  3D Rating: NA

    The film is framed at 1.33:1 and is presented in 1080p resolution using the AVC codec. Very clean with no dust specks or scratches to speak of, the film’s outstanding sharpness varies only when it’s apparent a shot or two didn’t come from the camera negative but from another source where the grain level can also occasionally rise and fall. The grayscale is positively unbelievable for a film of this age with superb black levels and shimmering whites. Contrast has also been applied expertly with the result being a near-reference quality image.



    Audio Rating: 4/5

    The PCM (1.1 Mbps) 1.0 sound mix is better than anyone should expect from such ancient elements. If there’s the tiniest bit of attenuated hiss in the second half of the movie, it’s not at all bothersome, and the dialogue has been recorded so beautifully and has been mixed so dexterously with the music and sound effects that the audio track is surprisingly rich for a film of this era.



    Special Features Rating: 5/5

    Frank Capra, Jr. Interview (11:16, HD): a 1999 interview allows the son of the film’s director to recall some of the comments his famous father made to him about the production of the movie in regard to its genesis, its casting, its four week production schedule, and its public reception and subsequent awards.

    Screwball Comedy? (38:36, HD): film critics Molly Haskell and Phillip Lopate discuss not only the film’s claims as a progenitor of screwball comedy but also its other many merits in a lively give-and-take filmed in 2014.

    Fultah Fisher’s Boarding House (12:03, HD): Frank Capra’s first directing job, a 1921 silent drama featuring a cross section of inhabitants and a tragic tale of rejected love and murder.

    Frank Capra’s American Dream (1:36:02, HD): Ken Bowser’s 1997 documentary on the life and career of Frank Capra featuring clips from his films and anecdotes shared by family, cast members, and film historians about his work. It’s narrated by Ron Howard.

    The AFI Tribute to Frank Capra (59:11, HD): Frank Capra’s lifetime achievement award special presented in 1982 and featuring host James Stewart and comments from, among others, Bette Davis and Claudette Colbert.

    Theatrical Trailer (1:24, HD)

    Enclosed Pamphlet: contains cast and crew lists, information on the audio and video transfer, and film critic Farran Smith Nehme’s illuminating essay on the movie.

    Timeline: can be pulled up from the menu or by pushing the red button on the remote. It shows you your progress on the disc and the title of the chapter you’re now in. Additionally, two other buttons on the remote can place or remove bookmarks if you decide to stop viewing before reaching the end of the film or want to mark specific places for later reference.



    Overall Rating: 4.5/5

    No two ways about it, It Happened One Night is one of the classic comedies of the 1930s and also every subsequent decade. Its rare mixture of sass and sweetness have kept it fresh and appealing for eight decades and promise to do so for many decades to come. Highly recommended!


    Reviewed By: Matt Hough


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    Jimbo64, Steve...O and ChromeJob like this.
  2. Mark Booth

    Mark Booth Cinematographer
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    We just watched 'It Happened One Night' last night! I agree, a superb movie and I think it's pretty much impossible for it to ever look any better than it does on this Criterion release!

    HIGHLY recommended, indeed!

    Mark
     
  3. ChromeJob

    ChromeJob Second Unit

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    To delights in this BD:

    1. I'd never noticed, the operator of the gyro-copter is visible in the cockpit as King Westley walks away from it on the lawn.
    2. The lovely period font on the Criterion cover is taken from the "Night bus to New York" sign in the bus station where Ellen and Peter board their bus. The story that Capra had Columbia option, and that Robert Riskin based his script on, was titled "Night Bus."
    Thank you, Criterion. Another priceless classic given the home video release it deserves.
     
  4. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Director

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    This one's been sitting on the shelf for a long while, but I couldn't sleep tonight so I decided to pop it in for a middle-of-the-night feature. Wonderful disc, wonderful film. Gable and Colbert have marvelous chemistry. The surprisingly fast pace kept my attention. And I don't think I've ever been so charmed by a Capra picture.
     
  5. Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Executive Producer
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    You'd never seen it before? I'm envious of the experience, I wish I could see it for the first time again. I also saw it late on a sleepless night and had the same reaction myself.
     
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  6. Steve...O

    Steve...O Producer

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    Great movie and great BD - one can't go wrong with this and well worth a recommendation to pick this up at the next B&N sale if not part of your collection.
     
  7. Race Bannon

    Race Bannon Supporting Actor

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    I'm such a fan of Capra. And I love the way this film portrays what America was like (or at least thought it was like) in the early to mid 30's, before world events started building towards war. Watching them traverse a country with no interstate highways, and staying in those campground-style motels (with shared bathhouses) is fascinating to me.
     
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  8. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Director

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    I would bet that part of why this movie was such a huge hit with audiences at the time was the fact that, half a decade into the Great Depression, it told its story through environs that the audience could relate to, and one of the core through lines of the story -- having to get across eight states with less than $20 between the two of them -- was also likely a compelling quandary for audiences that had spent years getting by with not enough. As opposed to historical epics or Westerns, this movie had to feel quite contemporary and relevant in the details if not the screwball plot.
     
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  9. Garysb

    Garysb Producer

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    The Criterion versions of "It Happened One Night" and "Shampoo" are currently £8.32 each after removal of VAT plus £4.07 shipping if you order both to the US on Amazon.co.uk. With the pound down verses the dollar shop these deals now.
    Criterions from the UK are Region B locked usually.
     
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