best film: It is a two-horse race here and Frank Capra’s It Happened One Night reigns supreme above Preston Sturges’ The Palm Beach Story. Both films feature crazy good talent in front of the camera (Claudette Colbert in both of course – opposite Clark Gable in Capra’s film and Joel McCrea in The Palm Beach Story) and witty writing. It is Capra’s breakneck editing pace that really pushes it past Sturges’ film (and so many others) in the screwball genre.
best performance: It Happened One Night. Colbert and Clark Gable won the two lead acting Oscars for their work in this iconic masterpiece. Colbert is every bit the equal of Gable. One of Hollywood’s most indelible images during the studio era is of Colbert hitchhiking with her legs.
stylistic innovations/traits: Claudette Colbert was born in France but moved to the United States as a young child. Colbert was the queen of the screwball comedy and is perhaps more associated with the genre than say Katharine Hepburn or Barbara Stanwyck. Part of that is because Colbert is a comedic genius – but the other part is she failed to really break away from the genre (at least as successfully as either Hepburn or Stanwyck). Colbert did some television work in the 1950s, but she was largely retired from film acting by the end of World War II. Still, in her prime, she made eleven (11) archiveable films in fourteen (14) years from 1931 to 1944.
directors worked with: Mitchell Leisen (2), but once with Ernst Lubitsch, John Ford, Frank Capra, Cecil B. DeMille and Preston Sturges. Yes, Ford and DeMille are big names and the only two-time archiveable director collaboration is Leisen, but it is her work with the early sound comedy masters: Capra, Sturges, and Lubitsch (these three really helped define the genre – she is missing Howard Hawks here) that she is, rightly, remembered for.
top five performances:
- It Happened One Night
- The Palm Beach Story
- The Smiling Lieutenant
- Since You Went Away
|1931- The Smiling Lieutenant|
|1934- Imitation of Life|
|1934- It Happened One Night|
|1939- Drums Along the Mohawk|
|1939- It’s a Wonderful World|
|1940- Boom Town|
|1942- The Palm Beach Story|
|1943- No Time for Love|
|1944- Since You Went Away|
Drake, are you going to post the 2022 year page soon, or are you waiting to finish Actresses first? Love the site, btw
@Haider- Thank you for the kind words on the site- so happy to hear that. Depends on what you mean by soon- I am not necessarily waiting for the actress list first before doing the 2022 page- but I still have some work to do on 2022 films before I’d be able to talk about 2022 as a year with any sort of confidence. I think I did the 2021 page in April of 2022 and I don’t know that it’ll take that long- but there are 8-10 2022 films I need to see first.
I read somewhere that she was originally considered for All About Eve. I would never mess with the perfection of Bette Davis’ casting and performance but it would have been quite a comeback role for Colbert
@Ce- Agreed on both counts here