It Happened One Night
"It Happened One Night" is a sweet, beautifully architected film, with clever dialogue and superb acting. Truly timeless in its appeal, and superior to most of the drivel of our day, especially in the romcom category. It’s also kind of disturbing in how it rightfully elicits both whimsical sighs and ruminations a la "damn, that’s fucked up" from thoughtful contemporary audiences. The film is almost a treatise on how gallantry and chivalry can be tied up with chauvinism and an odd paternalism extending from it. Clark Gable’s character, Peter, is all charm, and then suddenly he’s giving a grown woman a spanking, or snapping "don’t do that, I’ll break your neck" or spouting about how so-and-so is the "type of woman who needs to get slugged once a day". And these moments play alongside the gentleman ideal and subtle sultriness embodied in the "the walls of jericho" (a blanket hung on a wire dividing a shared hotel room to give a young woman privacy, it later becomes the euphemism for the restrained sexual desire, and finally, for the indulging of this desire - when the characters fall in love and the walls are leveled) and Peter’s general caring for his lady companion. It’s an odd experience watching an excellent film, immersing yourself in the charm of another time, seeing in a character the gentleman you try to be, only to be jerked back into reality by a sudden revelation of the ugly underbelly of a world that you are tempted to feel nostalgia for.