It Happened One Night has been credited for jump-starting the romantic comedy. Produced in 1934 with only a $325,000 budget, the movie surprised everyone and won all five of the top Oscar categories - Best Picture, Best Actor (Clark Gable), Best Actress (Claudette Colbert), Best Director (Frank Capra), and Best Adaptation. This feat was unrivaled until 1975 with One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.
In theaters during the Great Depression, It Happened One Night allowed movie goers an escape from the troubling times. It made them laugh. It also inspired Friz Freleng's infamous cartoon characters - Bugs Bunny, Yosemite Sam, and Pepe LePew.
It Happened One Night follows Claudette's character, Ellie, as she runs away from her rich father. She takes a night bus to New York and meets Gable's character, Peter, who is a jobless journalist. He agrees to help her return to her husband (whom she married against her father's wishes and was unable to consummate the marriage) if she will allow him exclusive rights to her story. The two make a deal.
And - of course - end up falling in love.
Here is the famous hitchhiking scene from the movie, where Ellie proves "once and for all that the limb is mighter than the thumb."
If you haven't seen it - or haven't seen it in a while - watch it and enjoy the escape :)