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[Offical Synopsis] Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert team up for laughs as mismatched lovers in this 1934 screwball comedy classic. Spoiled Ellie Andrews (Colbert) escapes from her millionaire father (Walter Connolly),who wants to stop her from marrying a worthless playboy. En route to New York, Ellie gets involved with an out-of-work newsman, Peter Warne (Gable). When their bus breaks down, the bickering couple set off on a madcap hitchhiking expedition. Complications fly when the runaway heiress and brash reporter fall in love. Directed by Frank Capra, IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT was the first movie to be honoured with all five major Oscars®: Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director, and Best Screenplay. Now fully restored in 4K, experience this timeless comedy like never before.

Video


The image is pretty fantastic given the film's age. There are of course softer elements, usually intentionally with those classic Vaseline glamour shots but the image still remains pretty remarkable all thing considered and this title (one of the first released UK Criterion Collection titles) really shows of the the possibilities of remasting old classics.

No print damage is obvious, black levels are deep but not always sharp around edges, causing dark hair to disappear into shadowed backgrounds but there's a huge range from white, through multiple greys on the way to black, which gives this a much more realistic look in an era of film that often struggles to achieve that. Well lit edges are sharp, enabling textures to shine, especially vehicle bodywork. It's maybe not quite as impressive with clothing, with materials all looking largely alike but sets and such can look great in the right conditions.

The only real downer here are the ugly looks of some of the softer, presumably rear projected false exterior scenes. The grain level steps up a notch and all of the greatness from the interior scenes slip away into the foggy softness of the grain and age of the film techniques. There are a few shots that mirror this in edits and transitions too and I assume these are maybe pick up shots or something shot separately to the core scene. These are entirely unavoidable due to the aged techniques used in the making of the film and the presentation does what it can with them but beware, it is a noticeable step down in quality in these minor moments.

It Happened One Night is a delightful classic to look at, with its romantic moments and well lit leads and this video presentation gives it a fresh feeling clean up that celebrates black and white filmmaking in great ways. I've seen better black and white classic presentations but this is still a very good one.

Audio


The audio track has the mildest of hiss behind the otherwise noticeably strong and wonderfully crisp presentation at times, mainly with the score at the beginning of the film. Despite this the score is still warm and stable with a clean sounding sense of power despite the smallness of the Mono  track.

Dialogue holds the same display of strength but with a slightly muffled sound in the upper pitches, such as character's screaming at one another or if the are a fair few elements battling within a scene.

Smaller elements such as folding newspapers, crowds at bus stations, heavy rainfall and general atmospheric sounds make the film feel more modern than I expected. The film sounds alive in all the right ways, with elements that both widen the track and the illusion of real life settings. This track really has a lot of subtle elements going on and despite never calling attention to these elements, if you take the time to pay attention, the world around our centre romantic comedy is rich and full of life.

Extras


'Frank Capra Jr. Remembers... It Happened One Night' (11:16 HD) A 1999 Interview talking or the origins of the film.

'Screwball Comedy?' (38:36 HD) is a 2014 discussion regarding the idea that It Happened One Night is the first screwball comedy. With arguments for and against the idea.

'Fulham Fisher's Boarding House' (12:03 HD) is 1921 silent short by Capra.

'Frank Capra's American Dream' (96:00) is the feature length 1997 documentary about the director's work, hosted and narrated by Ron Howard with a whole host of filmmakers celebrating the director's career. It's kind of fantastic and an easy watch.

'AFI Life Achievement Award: Tribute to Frank Capra' (59:11 HD) is the 1982 televised show in its entirety with many a famous face on hand to sing the director's praises as he looks on as the centre of attention

Last up on the disc is the 'Trailer', I'm unaware of the box design or if there is an inlay similar to the US Criterion releases as they were not supplied with this review disc.

Overall


It Happened One Night is a true Capra great, with two likeable leads, a whole host of enjoyable support characters and some wonderful moments of warmth and romance. The disc itself is isn't perfect on the visual front at times but when it hits its best, it's near faultless. The audio has loads going on and really manages to elevate the film and this Criterion Collection title brings a fantastic set of Capra extras that will more than widen your knowledge of the legendary filmmaker. Criterion hit the UK with a solid start.

* Note: The images below are taken from the Blu-ray and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the true quality of the source.

 It Happened One Night
 It Happened One Night
 It Happened One Night
 It Happened One Night
 It Happened One Night
 It Happened One Night


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