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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

It Happened One Night [Blu-ray]


(Frank Capra, 1934)



Criterion is releasing this in the UK on Blu-ray in April of 2016:


Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Columbia Pictures Corporation

Video: Criterion Collection Spine #736



Region: 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:45:16.893

Disc Size: 45,959,111,128 bytes

Feature Size: 21,923,426,304 bytes

Video Bitrate: 24.11 Mbps

Chapters: 12

Case: Transparent Blu-ray case

Release date: November 18th, 2014



Aspect ratio: 1.33:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit



English (SDH), none



Screwball Comedy?, a new conversation between critics Molly Haskell and Phillip Lopate (38:36)
Interview with Frank Capra Jr. from 1999 (11:17)
Frank Capra’s American Dream, a 1997 feature-length documentary about the director’s life and career (1:36:03)
New digital transfer of Capra’s first film, the 1921 silent short Fultah Fisher’s Boarding House, with a new score composed and performed by Donald Sosin (12:03)
American Film Institute tribute to Capra from 1982 (59:12)
Trailer (1:24)
PLUS: An essay by critic Farran Smith Nehme






Description: Opposites attract with magnetic force in this romantic road-trip delight from Frank Capra, about a spoiled runaway socialite (Claudette Colbert) and a roguish man-of-the-people reporter (Clark Gable) who is determined to get the scoop on her scandalous disappearance. The first film to accomplish the very rare feat of sweeping all five major Oscar categories (best picture, best actor, best actress, best director, and best screenplay), It Happened One Night is among the most gracefully constructed and edited films of the early sound era, packed with clever situations and gags that have entered the Hollywood comedy pantheon and featuring two actors at the top of their game, sparking with a chemistry that has never been bettered.



The Film:

Frank Capra's seminal screwball comedy, which won all five major Academy Awards for 1934, is still as breezy and beguiling today. Claudette Colbert plays Ellie Andrews, a spoiled heiress who has married fortune-hunting aviator King Westley (Jameson Thomas), despite her father (Walter Connolly)'s objections. To keep Ellie from marrying this lothario, her father has been holding her prisoner aboard his yacht. But Ellie bolts from the yacht, swims ashore in her clothes, and eventually slips onto a Greyhound bus bound for New York. Aboard the bus is newspaper reporter Peter Warne (Clark Gable), who has recently been fired for drinking on the job. Peter gets the last seat on the bus -- but when he gets up to argue with the bus driver, Ellie takes his seat. Since it is the last seat on the bus, they have to share it. When Ellie has her purse stolen and she refuses to report it, Peter begins to suspect something. The next morning, they both miss the bus after a leisurely breakfast, and Peter reveals that he knows her identity. She makes a deal with him: if he helps her get to New York, he can write a scoop about her for his paper. Peter thinks she is a spoiled brat, however, and refuses a monetary bribe: "I'm not interested in your money or your problem. You, King Westley, your father -- you're all a lot of hooey to me!" But as they travel northward and engage in a series of misadventures, the gruff newspaperman and the spoiled rich girl, thrown together by circumstances, fall in love with each other.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

It happened one night in 1934, and it happens every time we watch this utterly beguiling film. A rather modest effort which brought Capra into the spotlight, we frankly prefer it to many of the more "important" films he made later. It also clinched for good the stardom of Gable and Colbert. (What a pity that their only other teaming was the dismal BOOM TOWN.)

The familiar story, a prototype for many screwball comedies to follow, opens with headstrong heiress Ellie Andrews (Colbert) fleeing her father (Connolly). Trying to make it to her washout fiance (Thomas) on her own, she soon encounters errant reporter Peter Warne (Gable). He agrees to help her make it from Florida to New York in exchange for her story, which will square him with his disgruntled boss. Over the course of several nights, the inevitable happens.

What really distinguishes IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT from so many other films are Capra's handling of the individual comic and romantic setpieces, Riskin's way with a line, and the marvelous cast. Every viewer has his or her favorite scenes. Consider the "wall of Jericho" (a blanket) Peter sets up between himself and Ellie before bedding down for the night, a sly dig at Production Code prudery just then being enforced.

Excerpt from TV Guide located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

It Happened One Night shows some very pleasing textures on Blu-ray from Criterion.  The image is really thick with film grain.  This is dual-layered and we can guess that it is a solid representation of this 80-year old film. Once again the larger the system the more the higher resolution will look superior. It appears far more like 'film' than the SDs. It is also surprisingly clean. Aside from the expected age-related weaknesses (which are minimal) this Blu-ray has no unforgivable flaws and supplies a very pleasing 1080P presentation that film aficionados will relish.




1) Original Individual Release (Columbia Tri-Star) - Region 1,3,4 - NTSC TOP
2) Premiere Frank Capra Boxset (REVIEWED HERE) - Region 1,3,4 - NTSC MIDDLE
3) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM


1) Original Individual Release (Columbia Tri-Star) - Region 1,3,4 - NTSC TOP
2) Premiere Frank Capra Boxset (REVIEWED HERE) - Region 1,3,4 - NTSC MIDDLE
3) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM


1) Original Individual Release (Columbia Tri-Star) - Region 1,3,4 - NTSC TOP
2) Premiere Frank Capra Boxset (REVIEWED HERE) - Region 1,3,4 - NTSC MIDDLE
3) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM














Audio :

The audio is in a linear PCM mono track and sounds authentically filled with the weaknesses you might expect from a production of this era. There is no real depth and a bit scattered dialogue but is fully discernable. The score is by Howard Jackson who composed for this film and for almost 400 titles in his career finding his calling in documentary shorts but did do features like Tobor the Great, Cry Terror! and Sam Fuller's Merrill's Marauders. There are optional English subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A' disc.


Extras :

Criterion offer quite a lot of supplements. Screwball Comedy?, is a new conversation, recorded by Criterion in August 2014, between critics Molly Haskell and Phillip Lopate discussing It Happened One Night and its relationship to the screwball comedy genre. It is excellent and runs shy of 40-minutes. We get an 11-minute interview with Frank Capra Jr. from 1999 where he discusses his father and the origins of It Happened One Night. Criterion include a new digital transfer of Capra’s first film, the 1921 silent short Fultah Fisher’s Boarding House, with a new score composed and performed by Donald Sosin. It runs a dozen minutes - set in a boarding house, it's about a girl known as Anne of Austria, played by Mildred Owens. Frank Capra’s American Dream, is a 1997 feature-length (1.5 hours) documentary about the director’s life and career directed by Ken Bowser and hosted by filmmaker, producer and actor Ron Howard. It traces the life of Frank Capra and features interviews with colleagues of Capra's, film historians, and contemporary actors and directors who were influenced by his work. There is also an hour-long American Film Institute tribute to Capra from 1982 where they presented their 10th lifetime achievement award to Frank Capra at an event hosted by Jimmy Stewart and attended by the Capra family and numerous Capra collaborators, including actors Claudette Colbert, Bette Davis, and Peter Falk and cinematographer Joseph Walker. The video piece is a slightly edited televised version of the ceremony. There is also a trailer and the package contains a liner notes booklet with an essay by critic Farran Smith Nehme.



This is one of the greats - a fantastic choice for Criterion to bring to 1080P and a package loaded with supplements. It Happened One Night is suitable ion any digital library. Warm, fun... Colbert and Gable are so great together. The Blu-ray has a ton of value and is very strongly recommended! 

Gary Tooze

November 11th, 2014


Criterion is releasing this in the UK on Blu-ray in April of 2016:


About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze





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