There are many ways to get from Point A to Point B. You could fly on a plane, ride on a train, or drive a car to get from here to a destination that’s far away. While the road trip is perhaps one of the last vestiges of a more carefree America, we often forget the simple pleasures of driving across the country because we are more concerned about how much the gasoline would cost in order to do it. After all, the point of a road trip isn’t really how long it takes or where you’re going, but rather the adventure of hitting the open road and exploring a small piece of the country. I’m sure Lewis and Clark would agree that the destination is only half of the reason to travel. And yet, sometimes our greatest relationships are forged on the highways (both of America and life). Of course, perhaps this is due to tight quarters and a bit of Stockholm Syndrome, but I’m not going to complain. This week’s two films look at the adventures encountered on road trips.
It Happened One Night
Rating: Not Rated
Length: 105 minutes / 1.75 hours
The road trip has long been a common theme in cinema, and perhaps the one movie to start that theme was It Happened One Night. Perhaps this is why the American Film Institute placed this movie as high as #35 on its top 100 lists. Of course, winning the “Big Five” Oscars probably helped a bit as well. At any rate, before personal automobiles started becoming more reliable and could travel longer distances, a road trip had to be taken with many other people. Trains and airplanes still were a little bit stiff if you wanted to really experience the trip, since they are more or less fixed on set paths and destinations. However, if you want to enjoy the scenery a little more, and not just experience a rushing blur, a bus would be the best way to travel for a road trip.
It Happened One Night gives a look into the road trip of Ellie Andrews (Claudette Colbert), who has boarded a bus in an attempt to re-unite with her husband, with whom she has just been married. Reluctantly, she accepts the help of an unemployed newspaper reporter, Peter Wayne (Clark Gable), on account of his threats to blackmail her by informing her father, who separated her from her husband in the first place. He figures that the story of a rich socialite on the run from her father would make a great enough story for him to finally get back in the newspaper game. Of course, what he doesn’t figure is that Ellie is no pushover and that she will do whatever it takes to arrive back in her husband’s arms. And yet, they both cannot envision what this road trip will really do for them.
North by Northwest
Rating: Not Rated
Length: 136 minutes / 2.27 hours
Have you ever just wanted to get away from it all? Are the stresses of life too much and you just need to take a trip away from the source of your headaches? For many of us, this is the main reason we take vacations in the first place: to get away. But, let’s say that your troubles follow along on your road trip. Your escape isn’t complete until you can get rid of the problems that have been hounding you. Now, what if these problems weren’t metaphorical, but were instead actual people trying to kill you because they think you’re a spy? Suddenly, a road trip becomes a chase which won’t end until you get caught or you can somehow clear your name. But, as was the case in the first film of this post, sometimes the company on a road trip can make everything worth it in the end.
How often are advertising men accused of being spies? Well, the answer to this is “at least once”, since Roger Thornhill (Cary Grant) is mistaken for George Kaplan, a spy who is wanted by some very dangerous men. Of course, as Roger tries to figure out where these men got the idea that he was a spy, someone dies in the process. Now, not only is Roger trying to escape from those who think he’s a spy, he’s trying to avoid being caught by the police, who are probably the last people to understand his predicament. Fortunately, he runs into Eve Kendall, who helps him run away from his pursuers. Unfortunately, while Roger thinks he’s gotten away from trouble, Eve turns out to be a lot more trouble than she’s worth. Still, Mount Rushmore might be a great road trip, but not when you’re actually on it and not when you’re being shot at.
2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 traveler’s tales