#97 My Man Godfrey (1936)

Here’s another screwball romantic comedy that shows a distinction between the poor and the bourgeois society- the rich are cooky and the poor are sweethearts. A very relatable film for those growing up during the Great Depression. Gregory La Cava’s My Man Godfrey is when a poor man living literally in the dumps gets a job as a butler for a rich family and hits the heart-strings of their daughter.  

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The character of Godfrey is selected to show up in a scavenger hunt by a rich woman in which she is supposed to bring a “forgotten man” to a party who then decides to give him a job as their butler. We see the distinction in how people can view a poor man. Either like the character of Cynthia in which she sees him as a potential thief and someone to look down on. Or like her sister Irene who finds him charming and lovestruck around him- feeling he deserves more than to live in the dumps. Of course in screwball comedies, things don’t turn out the way you plan with a bunch of twists and turns to keep things entertaining such as being accused of being married with kids or as a thief. This film kind of reminded me of our previous film Mr. Deeds Goes to Town in which we see a good-natured man use his power for the good of those around him. The only complaint I had with this film was I wish they went more into his occupation as a butler and more hilarious situations that could come from the job.

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It’s funny how Carole Lombard looks so cute and innocent as she’s chasing after Godfrey and is dazzled by his every quirk and habit. Yet in real life, it’s a different story. She would be constantly cursing and adding those foul words in the dialogue, causing a lot of reshoots. Also interesting is how William Powell (The Thin Man) agreed to only take part in the film if his ex-wife of three years (Lombard) would be casted as well. Guess that meant they were on good terms! My Man Godfrey is known for being the first and only film to be nominated for all of the acting awards but not for Best Picture until American Hustle came around 77 years later. You can watch this film anywhere now because of failure to renew the copyright, making it appear as public domain.

Watch this classic screwball comedy and write in your reactions:

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