It happened one night Summary | GradeSaver (2023)

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It happened one night

byFrank Capra

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At the start of the movie,Ellie Andrews, a wealthy heiress, has recently run off with a man namedKong Westley. Her father rejects it, and so has kidnapped Ellie and is keeping her on a small yacht. There she refuses to eat, and eventually manages to escape from the boat, dive into the water and swim ashore.Mr. Andrewssends a group of his assistants to retrieve her, but Ellie manages to get on a night bus to New York, where she is reunited with her husband, King. Meanwhile, snarky newspaper manPeter Warnehas just been fired by his editor and is boarding the same bus.

On the bus, Ellie sits down next to Peter, and the two begin a rather contentious camaraderie. Ellie doesn't want Peter's help, but she doesn't know how to take care of herself, having been pampered and served all her life. At one of the stops the bus makes, Peter witnesses a man steal Ellie's bag while she absentmindedly smokes a cigarette. Peter runs after the thief, but is unable to apprehend him. At the next stop, Ellie hitches a ride to a fancy hotel, expecting the bus to be waiting for her. Of course, it doesn't, and she is left stranded in Jacksonville. Noticing Ellie being left behind, Peter gets off the bus and waits for her. However, she still doesn't want his help.

Peter and Ellie both get on the next bus to New York. Ellie still wants nothing to do with Peter, but then a squishy and obnoxious roommate,Mr. Shapeley, won't stop making lascivious advances towards Ellie, Peter steps in and poses as Ellie's husband, curbing Shapeley's creepiness. Ellie is grateful for Peter's help. Unexpectedly, the bus has to stop at a camp because of the weather. With no money, Ellie has no choice but to pretend to be Peter's wife and share a cabin with him. In the cabin, they hang a curtain between their beds, a partition that Peter playfully calls "the walls of Jericho." While at first annoyed by the lack of privacy, Ellie begins to warm to Peter. He discovers that she is a runaway heiress and sends a wire to his old editor,Joe Gordon, and tells him that he has access to a story about the famous Ellie Andrews.

The following morning, Ellie is in a good mood. She takes a shower and she and Peter enjoy a nice breakfast. However, they are interrupted by the arrival of Mr. Andrews' detectives, who are looking for Ellie. Having to think fast, Peter and Ellie pretend to be a belligerent Southern couple who make a huge scene to scare and trick the detectives into leaving them alone.

They get back on the bus and the whole bus sings along to "The Man on the Flying Trapeze". Even the bus driver is drawn into the song, but it causes him to accidentally drive off the road and into a mud ditch. The bus is stranded and there isn't a town for ten miles. Outside the bus, Shapeley tells Peter that he recognizes Ellie from the headlines that Mr. Andrews has written in the papers and that he wants to make a deal with Peter to share the reward for spilling her whereabouts to the authorities. Peter pretends to be a mobster to Shapeley, which discourages Shapeley from telling anyone about Ellie's whereabouts.

Peter and Ellie decide to leave the bus for fear of Ellie's identity being discovered. They start walking through the countryside together. One night they sleep in some piles of hay and a romantic spark starts to ignite more and more between them. Along the way, Peter lectures Ellie about how to hitchhike properly. Although he has many strategies, he can't seem to get any cars to stop. Ellie tries to hitchhike, only lifting her skirt slightly to reveal her legs, which immediately causes a car to stop.

They hitch a ride with a man who tries to steal their belongings at a rest stop. Fortunately, Peter chases him and steals the man's car. Peter and Ellie make a run for it in a stolen car. They end up at another motel camp three hours outside of New York, where the motel owner's wife is skeptical about whether or not they are married. On their last night together, Ellie confesses her love to Peter, but Peter is cold towards her. After Ellie cries herself to sleep, Peter slips out of the cabin unnoticed, drives to New York and writes a story about his and Ellie's love affair, which he then sells to his old editor, Joe Gordon, for $1000. With the money, Peter plans to drive back to the cabin before Ellie wakes up and propose. Unfortunately, however, the motel owner's wife has woken Ellie up early and thrown her out of the cabin. Believing that Peter has abandoned her, Ellie goes to the sheriff's office and calls her father, asking him and King Westley to come get her.

Ellie returns to her father thinking that Peter has rejected her, which Peter in turn interprets as her rejection of him. Ellie plans to have a formal wedding with King Westley after receiving her father's consent. In the weeks leading up to the wedding, Mr. Andrews that Ellie seems strangely sad and correctly guesses that she has fallen in love with someone else. Ellie tells him about Peter, but insists that Peter doesn't love her. Mr. Andrews arranges a meeting with Peter to settle a reward for the return of his daughter, but Peter does not want the reward; he just wants $39.60 for travel expenses. During this meeting, Peter also tells Mr. Andrews that he loves Ellie. Mr. Andrews is impressed with Peter, and on their wedding day, he tells Ellie the story of their meeting as he walks her down the aisle. Should she change her mind about King Westley, Mr. Andrews to her daughter that there is a car at the gate of the house to which she can escape. At the last moment of the wedding ceremony, Ellie makes a run for it, gets into the car arranged by her father and drives off to meet Peter. Ellie and King have their marriage annulled and she and Peter honeymoon in a cabin motel where the "walls of Jericho" finally fall.

It happened one night Questions and answers

TheQuestions and answerssection for It Happened One Night is a great resource for asking questions, finding answers, and discussing the novel.

Tell them not to kill me!

I see no evidence of this line in the manuscript fromIt happened one night.

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What was the turtle's name?

I see no evidence of a turtle's name in the script for "It Happened One Night".

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When we are introduced to Peter Warne, what is he actually doing on the phone?

Peter Warne, clearly drunk, shouts at his boss for sacking him.

PETER (shouting into the phone) Listen, monkey face - when you fired me, you fired the best news soundbite your dirty scandal sheet ever had.

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Study Guide for It Happened One Night

It Happened One Night study guide includes a biography of Frank Capra, literature essays, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a complete summary and analysis.

  • If it happened one night
  • Summary of it happened one night
  • Character list
  • Cast list
  • The director's influence

Read the study guide for It Happened One Night...


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