Peter Warne (Clark Gable) is a hard-bitten reporter. He loses his job, but finds a ticket back in when he stumbles onto a runaway heiress, Ellie Andrews (Claudette Colbert). He meets her on a cross-country night bus, and threatens to blow her cover unless she gives him the exclusive story about her escape. They hate each other at first; when they realize that they'll have to share a room, they invent the "Wall of Jericho," a blanket between their two beds to keep them apart. But they eventually fall in love...This Romantic Comedy from 1934 was directed by Frank Capra. It was the first film to win all five major Oscars in the same year (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Screenplay - a feat only repeated twice since with One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest and Silence of the Lambs), established Columbia Pictures as a major film company, made Clark Gable a star, and let the world know that Frank Capra was a great director. Its title was the solution to the very first rebus on Concentration.It's also the first Screwball Comedy — it started a whole genre of comedy films in which a straight man-style character is chased, harassed, and eventually romantically captured by a Cloudcuckoolander (or related trope).
This film provides examples of:
Abhorrent Admirer: A very obnoxious guy hits on Ellie on the bus so Peter starts pretending to be her husband.
Disposable Fiancé: King Westley. He is the reason. Of course, Ellie never really knew him. He was simply the first man she ever got alone with and married him to stick it to her overprotective father. Once she spends her time with Peter and finds out what falling in love is actually like, she realizes there's no way she ever loved her fiancé.
Domestic Abuser: Peter pretends to abuse his "wife" to fool those who are looking for Ellie.
Fanservice: Clark Gable was seen without an undershirt in this film. There is an urban legend that this hurt undershirt sales.
Getting Crap Past the Radar: So blatant it hardly counts as sneaking. Peter and Ellie spend the movie hanging a towel (the Wall of Jericho) between the beds in their hotel/motel rooms for privacy. At the end, when they have been married, they retire to a hotel room, while the owner remarks to a friend how funny it is that the newlyweds requested a trumpet. Cut to a scene of a towel being thrown into the corner, with the sound of a trumpet being blown. Really suggestive for 1934.
Gilligan Cut: At the train station Peter insists that he wasn't interested in Ellie's money. Cut to the next scene where he sends off a telegram to his boss with the attempt to cash in on the big story that fell into his lap.
Mr. Andrews: Do you love my daughter? Peter: Any guy in love with your daughter should be examined. Mr. Andrews: Do you love her? Peter: A normal man couldn't live with her without going nutty. Mr. Andrews: I asked you a simple question! Do you love her? Peter: Yes!
Also, Peter's Mean Boss seems to have a soft side to him.
Just for the Heli of It: The groom arrives at the society wedding in an autogyro (like a helicopter, but with an unpowered rotor), apparently for the PR value. The bride and her father are not favorably impressed:
Mr. Andrews: Everything's set. Creating quite a furore, too. (Pause) Great stunt King is going to pull. Ellie: Stunt? Mr. Andrews: Yeah, he's landing on the lawn in an autogyro. Ellie: (Flatly) Yes, I heard. Mr. Andrews: Personally, I think it's silly, too.
Ellie and her father aren't the only ones to find it a bit silly
Peter: I'd like to get a load of that three ring circus you're pulling. I wanna see what love looks like when it's triumphant. I haven't had a good laugh in a week.
Offscreen Moment of Awesome: We don't get to see how Peter managed to outrun the car and overwhelm the driver who tried to get away with his luggage.
Over-the-Shoulder Carry: Peter walks across a shallow stream carrying Ellie over his shoulder to prevent her from falling in. However, Ellie thinks he is carrying her piggy-back and Peter slaps her on the butt for being foolish.
Parental Marriage Veto: The heiress has run away because her father is trying to annul her marriage. Of course, this happens before she meets Clark Gable.
Spoiled Brat: Ellie is so spoiled that she can't grasp the concept of a budget, and tries to buy candy on the bus when she has $4 to her name.
The Thirties: Two dollars to rent a motel room for the night.
Third Act Misunderstanding: Played straight as an arrow, almost to the point of deconstruction. After Ellie confesses love to Peter, he leaves without telling her to make arrangements for them to get married (including trying to gather enough money to have her marriage annulled). Ellie misunderstands the situation, thinking he abandoned her and went to collect the reward money, and goes off to have a proper wedding with King Westley. Meanwhile, the newspaper headlines have Peter believe Ellie changed her mind about him and thus he refrains from making an effort to explain the situation and win her back. Fortunately, Ellie's father comes to save the day, even though Ellie brushes him off the first time he tries to set things right.