And now it’s time to dig into another recent release on disc, the 1936 movie My Man Godfrey, which stars William Powell as Godfrey and Carole Lombard as Irene Bullock.
To start, we find Irene Bullock and her sister Cornelia (Gail Patrick) competing against each other in a scavenger hunt for the social elite. They both come to the city dump, looking for a “forgotten man.” Cornelia, who is a spoiled brat, finds Godfrey, and offers him five dollars to come with her, but he turns her down. Irene, who is a little more scatterbrained, but not quite so spoiled, realizes the idea is wrong, and Godfrey agrees to come with her to help her beat Cornelia. Afterwards, she hires Godfrey to be the family butler. The rest of the movie is about Godfrey as he works for the family, who are all a little screwy, except for the father, all the while Godfrey tries to keep his own background hidden while avoiding the affections of Irene, who falls for him.
With this movie, we have a highly regarded screwball comedy. We have four Oscar-nominated performances, with William Powell (Best Actor), Carole Lombard (Best Actress), Mischa Auer (Best Supporting Actor) and Alice Brady (Best Supporting Actress), in the first movie to be nominated in all four acting categories. Carole Lombard’s Irene is particularly screwy (and I get the impression the screwball genre was coined by a reviewer talking about her character). To a degree, we find ourselves siding with Godfrey early on, when he first comes to work for the family. Their maid, who has already been working for them a while, warns him to keep his things near the door so he can make a quick getaway. As he meets the family, we certainly can see him considering leaving (and I think most of us would be considering it, too), but he ends up staying, feeling it would be better than to go back to the dump. He even ends up helping them before all is said and done.
I enjoyed this movie very much, and it is one I would definitely recommend to anybody that might be interested in it. The movie is in the public domain, so it is available on DVD from many labels, but for the best quality, with the most recent restoration, it is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Criterion Collection (it’s a bit more expensive, but I think it is worth it). The movie is about one hour, thirty-three minutes in length.
My Rating: 10/10