- AFI's 100 Years... Series:
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies: #35
- AFI's 100 Years 100 Laughs: #8
- AFI's 100 Years... 100 Passions: #38
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition): #46
- AFI's 10 Top 10: #3, Romantic Comedy
- Contractual Obligation Project: Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert thought the film would flop and were only in the film to fulfill contractual obligations. Both would go on to win Oscars for the movie which also won for Best Picture.
- Hostility on the Set:
- Director Frank Capra and Gable were on edge with other at first, since Gable was only doing it for contractual reasons; Capra's original choice, Robert Montgomery, had not only turned the film down but said the script was awful, and after many other stars of the era turned it down Gable was imposed on Capra by the studio. However, they soon came to like each other.note
- On other hand, Capra and Colbert never warmed to each other, possibly because her terms for making the movie had included a strict four-week schedule so as not to disrupt a vacation she had planned afterwards.
- The Red Stapler: Unusual example, even inversion. The film is partially credited with the idea of making it cool to go without an undershirt, and causing a drop in sales of them.
- Sleeper Hit: Arguably the original example. The film was made on a low budget by a small studio and a director that had yet to make a name for himself. Columbia had little faith in the film, and spent almost nothing on advertising, while both of its stars wanted to distance themselves from the project. The film was originally released to average box office, but positive word-of-mouth eventually spread, and the film amassed a huge cult following, especially in rural areas. It later went on to sweep the Oscars that year, unheard of at the time for a smaller movie.
- Throw It In!: The at-the-time shocking Shirtless Scene came about because Clark Gable had trouble removing his undershirt to keep the flow of the scene going—so he went without it.
- Unintentional Period Piece:
- It's fascinating to see how a Road Trip Plot plays out in an era when car ownership was far from universal, and when train travel was a bit of a luxury, so bus lines were the most affordable way to travel long distances in America. And bus trips had their own little rituals, like stopping for meals or people walking down the aisles hawking items for sale. And also, it's an era when motels had detached cabin rooms and community showers.
- The Great Depression is hinted at, with the other guests at the auto camp presumably being displaced migrants, and the hobos riding on the freight train that halts the cars in the climax.
- Urban Legend of Zelda: Clark Gable's Shirtless Scene is popularly rumored to have caused undershirts to fall out of fashion, prompting him to wear one in a later film to save the industry. No actual evidence about this has been found.
- What Could Have Been:
- Robert Montgomery turned down the male lead, saying the script was the worst thing he had ever read. Fredric March also refused the part.
- Constance Bennett, Miriam Hopkins, Carole Lombardnote and Myrna Loy all turned the lead down for various reasons. Warner Bros. also refused to loan out Bette Davis, who was interested in the role, and amusingly would have an infamous Award Snub to Claudette Colbert for this very film.
- Claudette Colbert initially refused to Show Some Leg for the famous hitchhiker scene. So they got a double to do it instead. When Claudette saw the take, she didn't like the double's leg, and ended up showing her own after all.
- The aforementioned Myrna Loy stated that the original script of the film was very different from the final product, the quality of the script being why she and Robert Montgomery turned their offered roles down, one change being Ellie's motive for running away being that a rich life bored her.
Trivia / It Happened One Night