A movie from 1934, directed by Frank Capra and starring Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert. It is often credited (in my opinion, rightly) as being the first ever romantic comedy.

The plot line is simple yet convoluted, and in many places implausible, as befits the genre. A rich and spoiled heiress (Colbert) runs away from her family so as not to go ahead with a planned marriage. A nation wide hunt is instituted and the papers are heavily involved in trying to find her. On the way she meets and is helped by a strange young man (Gable) who is really a reporter looking for a story, and who sees through her flimsy disguise and recognises her as a potential career opportunity.

Needless to say, she falls in love with his brusque exterior (which of course hides beneath it a heart of gold), and he falls in love with, well, her, as far as I could tell. Not before she hates him at first sight, is forced to trudge along a dusty road and hitch rides by lifting her skirt to show her leg (a much-copied sequence), and is generally humiliated enough to admit both his working class and male superiority.

The movie was made and released before the advent of censorship in the Hollywood studios, and although it would be tame by modern standards - there is no nudity, no sex before marriage etc. - it still contains such scenes as the two protagonists sharing a room and a pair of pyjamas (she gets tops, he gets bottoms), which would not have washed in a family film for many years after the late thirties. The standard of double-entendre is also high enough to put any subsequent James Bonds to shame.

As outdated as many of the ideologies and motifs in the movie are, it still deals with the eternal comic misadventures of two people who first loathe each other and then fall in love. As such, it is a classic on a par with Much Ado About Nothing and Pride and Prejudice. Capra's genius for characterisation and comedy is already in full bloom here, and so the film would appeal to both oldie buffs and romantic comedy lovers.

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