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It Happened One Night

ISBN: 978-1-4443-1016-0
152 pages
September 2009, Wiley-Blackwell
It Happened One Night (144431016X) cover image


A movie that swept the 1934 Academy Awards and captivated Depression-era America, It Happened One Night challenged the ways Americans imagined marriage, romance, gender, and class difference. This book examines key scenes and formal features of It Happened One Night, and explores its lasting importance in film history and in cultural studies.
  • Consideration of the film’s role in establishing the genre of the romantic comedy film
  • Investigations into the film’s persistent sexuality and its creativity in avoiding Depression-era censorship
  • Establishment of the cultural, economic, and political context of a film that directly addresses the Depression and class issues
  • Exploration of how the film invokes and develops the stardom of Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert and how this stardom intersects with the film’s topics of gender, genre, sexuality, and class
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Table of Contents


1.Rules and Unruliness: Screwball Comedy and the Road Movie.

2. The Production Code and the Wall of Jericho.

3. Contexts: Capra, Class, and Depression-Era America.

4. Stardom: Gable and Colbert

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Author Information

Linda Mizejewski is Professor of Women’s Studies at Ohio State University.
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"Filled with clearly explained theory, it is an exemplary guide for film students and teachers. Its shrewd reading of the film empowers the text; the meticulous research and subtle analysis is sophisticated enough for high level readers yet accessible enough for those new to the field. ... This book is not just for lovers of Capra, Gable, or even 'old films'—the concepts of gender, class, stardom, and censorship developed in this text are pertinent for any film buff." (M/C Reviews, April 2010)

“Mizejewski is marvelously alert to the romance, sex, class feeling and star power that made It Happened One Night a landmark comedy. An indispensable guide to what “It” is all about.”
Maria DiBattista, Princeton University

 "Linda Mizejewski's It Happened One Night, like Frank Capra's, is tough-minded and tender, politically and discursively astute, yet open to the humor and mystery of "young people in love."  Her command of the scholarship is impressive, her prose is nimble and sharp.  A landmark study of a landmark film."  Leland Poague, Iowa State University

“What a wonderful read!  Mizejewski’s witty and lucid study of It Happened One Night offers a knowledgeable introduction not only to this important film but to the genre of romantic comedy and the scholarship it has inspired.”  
Kathleen Rowe Karlyn, University of Oregon

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