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There are certain films and shows that resonate with audiences everywhere - they generate discussion and debate about everything from gender, class, citizenship and race to consumerism and social identity. This new "teachable canon" of film and television introduces students to alternative classics that range from silent film to CSI.
Its most famous prop is a blanket, and its star endorsement was that real men do not wear undershirts. The humble and even corny touchstones of Frank Capra's Academy Award-winning 1934 comedy It Happened One Night belie its power and consequential status in the history of classic Hollywood cinema.
Through its screwball comedy, spunky heroine, bickering lovers, and class conflicts, It Happened One Night invites discussion of film history, the studio system, and the problems posed by sound cinema for early-1930s censorship codes.
A strong case study for teaching American Depression Era history and film genre development.
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List of Illustrations ix
Introduction: Little Picture, Big Classic 1
Legends and a Legendary Hit 1
Adaptation: "Night Bus" to Sleeper Hit 6
Capra and Authorship 13
1 Rules and Unruliness: Romantic Comedy 17
Gender and Genre 17
Screwball Characters Meet Cute 21
Intimacy, Violence, and Marriage 30
2 Sex and Censorship: The Wavering Walls of Jericho 41
The Hays Office and the Production Code 41
Censorship and the Power of "It" 46
Constructing the Walls of Jericho 51
The Walls Tumble Down 62
3 Capra, Class, and the Runaway Heiress 69
Hollywood and the Great Depression 69
The Runaway Heiress 75
Capra and Class Politics 83
4 Stardom: Shirtless Gable, Classy Colbert 96
Cave Man and a Menace to Morals 96
"Who Do You Think You Are? Clark Gable?" 103
Tough Dame, Lovely Frog 110
The Runaway Bride 118
Works Cited 126