Topic: ArtComedy

Last updated: April 5, 2019

The movie It All Happened in One Night is one of the most popular comedies in the mid-twentieth century. The movie involves a spoilt girl, Ellie Edwards, who is caught in the nightmare of marrying the right man with the influence of his father. The film portrayed a new type of comedy that presents different roles of the man and woman in events resulting in marriage. All the characters in the film play a significant role in bringing out the main theme. The main interesting parts of the film are Ellie’s elopement to Westley, her first encounter with Peter Warner, and the Ellie’s relationship with her father. Most of these aspects of the movie raise questions regarding the normality of the relationship between the characters and whether their actions lead them to commit transgressions.
At the beginning of the film, it is apparent that Ellie elopes to Westley, who is perceived as a fortune hunter King. Her relationship with Westley is interesting due to her lack of knowledge of Westley’s intentions. It is apparent that her father realizes Westley’s intentions and tries to earn his daughter to avoid marrying the man who is just after her fortune (Capra). In this case, Ellies is expected to be in a more intimate relationship with Westley hence notice his malicious intentions. However, it is apparent that her feelings for Westley cloud her imagination making it impossible for her to notice this looming trap. Instead, her father’s concern for her well being and happiness causes him to realize the fact that Westley’s intentions were not meant to benefit his daughter (Capra). This aspect of the movie implies that most people in a relationship are unable to realize the true nature of their partners because they either want to see what they expect, or they are not aware of what to look for in their partners.
Ellie’s relationship with Peter Warner in the film is also interesting. At first, the relationship begins when they meet on the bus, but Warner already knows that Ellie is eloped. In fact, he offers to help her to reunite with Westley since her father was trying to stop the marriage. The most interesting aspect of this part of the film is that they later fall in love on the course of their professional relationship. This calls the question of whether Ellie was truly in love with Westley or whether Warner truly had the intentions of conducting an exclusive on Ellie and Westley’s relationship. The relationship between Ellie and her father is also an interesting part of the movie (Capra). Despite being rich, Ellie’s father is too controlling of her daughter. This also raises the question of whether he genuinely cares for his daughter or fears that he would not get the value for a daughter he believes to have raised in the most civil manner. This clearly implies that the behavior exhibited by most of the characters in the film is questionable based on its intentions.
There are various parts of the movie that are directly related to arguments of Cavell in his book, Pursuits of Happiness. In this book, Cavell addresses various aspects of knowledge in relation to activities in the society that are meant to attain happiness. The last part of the movie where Ellie Ditches Westley’s wedding to her car to meet with Warner is one of the parts that are directly related to Cavell’s book. In one of his arguments about the aspect of remarriage, Cavell highlights that “I may say that what a film or any work, thinks it means – or what one might at first think it thinks it means – is not to be taken as final” (Cavell 46). In this statement, the book argues against the aspect of conformity when it comes to films. It implies that it is not reliable to make conclusions when addressing aspects of a film or any other work of art. Most works of art tend to present a particular story and end up showing another side of the story. The book perceives the same characteristic of movies. This is directly linked to the events that happen in Capra’s movie. Most of the newspapers indicate that “Ellie Remarries Today” as their catch phrase to their biggest story of the day. However, most of the readers and people anticipating the wedding are sure that Ellie has decided to remarry Westley after their first failed marriage (Capra). The movie itself is also convinced that Ellie would remarry Westley due to the full arrangements of the marriage and the fact that both the bride and the groom are present at the wedding. However, the unexpected happens when Ellie runs off to her car to marry Warner instead of Westley.
In the book, Cavell satirizes the aspect of escaping movies. According to him, it is sarcastic that some movies have to be described as escaping (Cavell 98). He believes that this is one of the factors that make the film a comedy. The movie is directly related to this reasoning through most of the events that are take place involving Ellie. One of these cases is where Ellie escapes from his father with the intention of marrying Westley. This is an unreasonable situation according to Cavell since Ellie’s father strives to give her everything she needs. It is also apparent that he is not against the idea of Ellie’s marriage but rather concerned whether Ellie would select the right man for marriage. Another instance of running is where Ellie runs away from Warner under the impression that he had betrayed her for money. This is one of the most desperate moves made by Ellie in the movie. This is because the reality was the opposite. Without knowing, she makes the hasty decision of remarrying Westley even though she has already fallen in love with Warner. Ellie also runs away from Westley in the last moments of the wedding on her way to get back together with Warner (Capra). According to Cavell, this feature of escaping in the movie affects the theme and the lesson of the movie. The aspect of escaping in a movie causes the lack of direction in a manner that it is impossible to determine the true objectives of the characters or relate the end of the movie to the true motives of the characters.
It is apparent that the film is a comedy that exhibited a new style in comedy through the representation of the characters in terms of gender. The movie depicts the main character, Ellie, as a highly sensitive character who is confronted with the reality to make various decisions resulting in her marriage to the perfect man. In the course of these activities, Ellie elopes with Westley and later fall in love with Warner. This movie is connected to Cavell’s book in different ways. Cavell provides a philosophical analysis regarding the issue of remarriage. He analyses some of the transgressions that are possibly committed when people tend to remarry. This film highlights some of these transgressions through the encounters of the characters. It is apparent that Ellie moves from Westley to Warner many times without justifiable course. In the context of Cavell’s book, it is possible to ask whether this was an act of transgression since Ellie is only interested in getting what she wants regardless of fulfilling the true value of marriage or considering the pain of the other people. Seemingly, it is apparent that Westley sticks with Ellie in order to gain part of her wealth after marriage despite the fact that he does not love her. This could also be questioned as a transgression in the context of marriage. In the book, Cavell also addresses the complexity of movies and other works of art. He implies that some works of art do not bring out a direct meaning content as expected by the audience or as suggested by the works of art. This can be viewed in the movie when the final wedding between Ellie and Westley fell apart when everyone expected it to be the wedding of the day. Cavell’s analysis of remarriage as depicted in comedy films brings light to some of the main issues that neglected when people remarry without considering the value of marriage.


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