It Happened One Night Analysis

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3.2 Film Analysis ‘It Happened One Night‘
3.2.1 Story/Plot
Frank Capra’s black and white movie “It Happened One Night” was released in 1934, starring Clark Gable as Peter Warne and Claudette Colbert as Ellen Andrews. The story of the film is based on Samuel Hopkins Adams’ short story ‘Night Bus’ and has a running time of 1:45:05 while the storytime is 3 days and 3 nights. The Film represents many topics and themes relevant for the 1930s’ such as social mobility, class, gender, and the pursuit of happiness. This analysis will focus on questions of gender and notions of femininity existing during the Great Depression in US Culture, which are reproduced through the film itself. To support my thesis, I will analyze the most important key scenes
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In the following shot the viewer is introduced to Mr. Andrews who is just being informed about his daughter being on hunger strike. In the following shot we see Alexander Andrews trying to comfort his daughter. Through their dialog the viewer learns about the fact that Ellie has recently officially married and is being retained on the boat against her will because her father opposes the marriage. We also learn that Ellie feels like she has always been denied her will by her father and that her father supposes she only wants to marry King to anger him. The Mise en Scène of the first scenes establishes the Andrew’s social position. The big private boat, fully furnished and decorated with fresh flowers, the servants and details like expensive dishes and plenty of food clarify the family’s upper social position and depict the magnitude of their wealth. This contrasts the mise en scène of the rest of the film, which focuses on the lower- and middle class and is described as “’consistently, conscientiously shabby … with that anonymous washed out look that only very familiar things acquire’ (Harvey 1987: 114)” (Mizejewski 73) trough shabby places, homemade signs and patched or unfitting clothes. As the servants bring in some food Alexander ordered, Ellie tells them not to do so; the servants take a step back and look terrified of her before her father interferes.…show more content…
Strong, intimidating, loud, knowing what she wants, smoking, and opposing established patriarchal systems by all force, represented in the movie by her father. Over the course of the film, Ellie’s image as the New Woman begins decreasing when she has to be saved multiple times by Peter Warren. Ellie turns out be the opposite of how she is presented in the exposition. She is arrogant, forgetful, helpless, incapable of managing her finances until Peter takes charge of them. She would not have made it as far towards New York if it was not for Peter saving and protecting her. The New Women turns out to be helpless and incapable all by herself. Only trough the help of benevolent men representing benevolent patriarchal systems Ellie is able to follow her dreams and fulfill her desires. Capra’s film presents the New Woman of the 1920s as a simply wrong concept which naively thinks of women as completely independent when in reality women are more than just dependent on men. Ellie’s crying out that she cannot be without Peter is more than just a phrase said when being in love. Ellie could have actually not been on this trip for so long if it was not for Peter. Capra indicates here that everything women had achieved over the previous decades was only because of the benevolent patriarchal system existing. Furthermore, the
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