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Needing the One You Hate: Frenemies from Casablanca to The Eagle

Posted January 07, 2011 to photo album "Needing the One You Hate: Frenemies from Casablanca to The Eagle"

Esca, the Celtic Slave, and Aquila, the Roman master, may appear an unlikely team in The Eagle, but the plot of enemies turned friends is a classic cinematic trope.

Slide 1: Roman/Celt
Slide 2: Apolitical/Collaborator | Casablanca (1942)
Slide 3: The Heiress/the Reporter | It Happened One Night (1934)
Slide 4: Sober/Drunk | The African Queen (1951)
Slide 5: Black/White | The Defiant Ones (1958)
Slide 6: Old/Young | True Grit (1969)
Slide 7: Cop/Crook | 48 Hours (1982)
Slide 8: Prisoner/Keeper | Midnight Run (1988)
Slide 9: Hippie/Straight Dude | Flashback (1990)
Slide 10: Finn/Russian | The Cuckoo (2002)
Slide 11: Old Man/Korean Kid | Gran Torino (2008)
Slide 3: The Heiress/the Reporter | It Happened One Night (1934)

Slide 3: The Heiress/the Reporter | It Happened One Night (1934)

Frank Capra's sassy 1934 romantic comedy It Happened One Night, Ellie Andrews (Claudette Colbert) is a spoiled heiress on the run from her dad. King Westley (Clark Gable) is an out-of-work newspaper reporter in need of a good story.  The two hammer out a bitter bargain. Andrew will give Westley the scoop to her scandalous elopement story if he’ll help her get to New York to meet up with her prospective husband. Part of the film’s charm lies in the way that the pair of star-crossed lovers inevitably learn that they have not only misjudged each other, but themselves as well. Gable’s character proves to be not quite as cynical and rough-hewn as he pretends to be, and Colbert’s heiress is deeper and more sincere that her flighty behavior would first suggest.  The most famous scene in the movie demonstrates the fact that Colbert's Ellie Andrews is in fact a little wiser in the ways of the world than she may seem, while Gable's Peter Warne is not as capable as he might like to think. Forced to hitchhike, Peter's “expert” techniques all fail, but Ellie simply has to show a little leg, and the very first car stops and offers them a lift. Reviewing this pre-Code gem, which became the first movie ever to claim all five major Academy Awards (Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress and Screenplay), Salon's Stephanie Zacharek wrote that the film “still feels unbeatably fresh and shiveringly touching. It's partly in the way Gable, with his whip-smart devilishness, softens just enough to reach out to meet Colbert, saucily innocent yet nobody's fool, more than halfway. And Colbert, with her wisenheimer smirk and stylishly trim frame, represents cultured coolness that's as far as you can get from coldness: When she thinks Gable has turned against her, the soft tear that glimmers in her eye (without doing anything so gauche as actually rolling down her cheek) is like a miniature novel encompassing a world of restraint, longing and fear of loss.”