My Man Godfrey (1936)

1936, Universal. Directed by Gregory La Cava. William Powell, Carole Lombard, Alice Brady, Gail Patrick, Eugene Pallette, Alan Mowbray, Jean Dixon, Mischa Auer.

Decent Films Ratings

Overall
Recommendability
?A
Artistic/
Entertainment Value
?
Moral/Spiritual
Value (+4/-4)
? +1
Age
Appropriateness
?Kids & Up

External Ratings

MPAA ?NR USCCB ?A-I

Content advisory: Comic depiction of inebriation and hangovers.

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My Man Godfrey (DVD)

From a National Catholic Register review

By Steven D. Greydanus

Possibly the screwiest of all screwball comedies, My Man Godfrey is the ultimate Depression-era satire of the idle rich and tribute to the noble poor. This popular screwball theme was never more devastatingly realized than in My Man Godfrey’s opening sequence, which begins with a pair of spoiled society-brat sisters (Gail Patrick and Carole Lombard) show up at a city dump looking for a "forgotten man" — as part of a cocktail-party scavenger hunt!

What they find is a down-and-out derelict named Godfrey (William Powell), whose rumpled dignity, ironic cynicism, and self-aware mien seem hardly typical of his station in life. Finding one of the sisters less condescendingly offensive than the other, Godfrey accompanies her back to the party, and winds up guardedly accepting a role in their sibling rivalry by becoming her "protégé" and the family butler. Godfrey, naturally, has a secret, as does the family he works for: They’re completely daft.

My Man Godfrey is social satire at its broadest; unlike Sullivan’s Travels there is no nuance in the picture of the rich as less worthy than the poor. And, between the heroine’s relentless flightiness and the hero’s implacable self-possession, the romantic angle is less effective than in Bringing Up Baby or It Happened One Night. But for hilariously outrageous behavior and merciless satirical zaniness, My Man Godfrey is an unsurpassed comic treasure.

Tags: Screwball Comedy, Comedy, Romance

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