It Happened One Night Studying the effects of the Hays Code and the Studio System on Hollywood
It Happened One Night • Starring: Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert • Directed by: Frank Capra • Studio: Columbia
Studio System Influence • According to legend, Clark Gable was loaned to Columbia Pictures, then considered a minor studio, as punishment for refusing a role at his own studio; • However, this has been refuted by more recent biographies. MGM did not have a project ready for Gable and was paying him $2,000 per week, under his contract, to do nothing. Louis B. Mayer loaned him to Columbia for $2500 per week, making a $500 per week profit. • Frank Capra became a director for Columbia in 1924 and continued as one of their major directors through the 40s • Colbert signed a contract with Paramount in 1928, • She was VERY successful, so 1933, Colbert renegotiated her contract with Paramount to allow her to appear in films for other studios, thus allowing her to appear in IHON. • Due to her success in IHON, she was able to renegotiate her contract, raising her salary.
IHON Influence: The Screwball Comedy • The “Screwball Comedy” • New American Genre • Heyday 1934-1945 • Essentially a love story • Main characters: • Comedic, romantic couple • Glamorous but wacky • Often initially hostile towards each other—trying to outwit one another • Much of the comedy comes from the fact that the characters think they are serious-they don’t realize that they are funny • Seemingly opposites but obviously “made for eachother” • Sometimes one is married/engaged to someone who is no good for them • More realistic and collaborative than slapstick • Snappy dialogue-wit and speed • Sentimental, sappy speeches meant to deceive • Story premise often absurd with many plot twists and turns that snowball out of control
While We Watch…observe and record • 1. The film’s persistent sexuality and its creativity in adhering to the Hays Code including “Walls of Jericho” in symbol and practice • 2. Consideration of the film’s role in establishing the genre of the romantic comedy film (what conventions do you notice that are still in romantic comedies today?) • 3. Establishment of the cultural, economic, and political context of IHON, including the Depression and class issues • 4. How the film develops ideas around gender, genre, sexuality, and class. • 5. The use of studio sets and how the film highlights and develops the stardom of Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert