Clark Gable won an Oscar from his first nomination for portraying Peter Warne in It Happened One Night.
Clark Gable here does not give a performance that bares his soul, it is not one that requires him to bare his darkest deepest emotions, no that is not what is required. But who cares he gives a great performance from something entirely different, his comedic timing and charm. Clark Gable is just brilliant here, he is just wonderful in the film from beginning to end. Every single moment he has he is always and utterly entertaining. The only thing that really requires dramatic work involves his change from only wanting to benefit from getting a story from a runaway socialite Ellie Andrews (Claudette Colbert) to falling in loving with her. This part of the character Gable handles well, making it very natural, but that is hardly what makes this performance so strong.
The rest of his performance is Gable himself who is as charming as possible as Warne. He is simply magnetic in the role, and infuses great comedic energy in every scene. His comedic timing is always spot on in every scene but I have some particular scenes that I enjoy the most. One I really like is when he gets rid of someone trying to tell on Ellie by pretending he is a gangster who kidnapped Ellie. He is hilarious with the voice he uses and pretends to act tough. Another scene that I like a lot is when he tells Ellie of his various methods of hitch hiking. His faces he makes and the way he tells about is one is just perfect, and very funny. I find that all his comedic work is just great every second of it. His charm is just strong, every scene he has is wonderful, Gable is usually a charming presence anyways but here I feel he really does out do himself. Something as simple as undressing is made into cinematic magic simply by the way Gable does it.
As for his chemistry with Claudette Colbert I would be hard pressed to name a better film couple. Again they are just perfect together in every type of scene. Their initial disdain for each other is well handled without being too much to make it so their love still makes sense. Their comedic scenes together are handled so each one lets each other be funny and the other reacts in the right way. Also when their being funny at the same time it is great such as when they pretend to be a feuding married couple to fool detectives looking for Ellie. Their romantic scenes are equally effective. Together they are absolutely right and true, their romance never seems wrong but only ever seems right. These two characters disliking each other than coming together is made seamless because of these two actors who work marvelously together. Gable does not have any scenes typical of an Oscar nominee or an Oscar winner but that does prevent this being a great performance that is just wonderful to watch, and truly deserving winner of a different style.