• My Man Godfrey (1936) - Gregory La Cava

    In MY MAN GODFREY, a scatterbrained socialite hires a vagrant as a family butler…but there’s more to Godfrey than meets the eye (IMDb).

    Roger Ebert included  MY MAN GODFREY on his list of great movies. In a 2008 review, he wrote,

    “… MY MAN GODFREY, one of the treasures of 1930s screwball comedy, doesn’t merely use Lombard and Powell, it loves them. She plays Irene, a petulant kid who wants what she wants when she wants it. His Godfrey employs an attentive posture and a deep, precise voice that bespeaks an exact measurement of the situation he finds himself in. These two actors, who were briefly married (1931-33) before the film was made in 1936, embody personal style in a way that is (to use a cliché that I mean sincerely) effortlessly magical. 

    MY MAN GODFREY contrasts the poverty of “forgotten men” during the Depression with the spoiled lifestyles of the idle rich. The family Irene brings Godfrey home to buttle for is the Bullocks, all obliviously nuts. Her father, Alexander (that gravel-voiced character actor of genius, Eugene Pallette), is a rich man, secretly broke, who addresses his spendthrift family in tones of disbelief (“In prison, at least I’d find some peace”). Her mother, Angelica (Alice Brady), pampers herself with unabashed luxury and even maintains a “protégé” (Mischa Auer) whose duties involve declaiming great literature, playing the piano, leaping about the room like a gorilla and gobbling up second helpings at every meal.

    God, but this film is beautiful. The cinematography by Ted Tetzlaff is a shimmering argument for everything I’ve ever tried to say in praise of black and white. Look me in the eye and tell me you would prefer to see it in color. 

    For Roger Ebert’s complete review

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    Categories: Classic Films