Classic Movie 2019

Classic Movie Of The Week: My Man Godfrey (1936)

Starring: William Powell, Carole Lombard, Alice Brady

Director: Gregory La Cava

Two high society sisters, Irene (Lombard) and Angelica (Brady), head down to the local dump to find a homeless man to complete a scavenger hunt. They come across Godfrey (Powell), who points out how shallow they are to make a mockery of men down on their luck during the Depression. While Angelica is angry, Irene decides to make it up to Godfrey by giving him a job as the family butler. But Godfrey isn’t who they think he is.

A classic screwball comedy, this film has sparkling repartee delivered at speed and a plot that’s as tight as a drum. There’s a touch of satire here, as the audience is invited to see the wealthy as silly and out of touch. Godfrey manages to keep them on the straight and narrow, as the matriarch is courted by a conman, the father may lose all their money and Angelica is determined to frame him for a crime. They seem to float through life and can barely function without their servants and help, though they are not bad people, just misguided and sheltered.

The relationship between Godfrey and Irene really sparkles. Lombard is beautiful and quick, like a bird, sparring with Powell. He is eternally dapper and competent. They’re so at odds with each other but perfectly matched, you can’t wait to see them get together, if you they can get over their foibles. I love the scene where Irene, thinking that Godfrey is married, announces her enagagement to the world at large (and especially Godfrey) without telling the man who asked her.

It’s hilarious how many bad decisions and situations this family is able to get into, and it’s great fun to watch Godfrey deftly get them out of it again, all the while sporting his dapper moustache. Make sure to look out for their sassy and put upon maid who gets some great one liners in herself. There is no weak performances in this film, everyone is tight and sharp, and it’s an absolute delight.

See It If: one of the great examples of Screwball comedy, this film packs in loads of plot and sharp dialogue from truly excellent players. One to watch.

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