Friday, October 8, 2010

MY MAN GODFREY (1936)

Two spoiled socialite sisters are out on a scavenger hunt. To win they need a "forgotten man" a.k.a. homeless person. They go to a dump down by the river and see scruffy William Powell sitting outside his shack. They offer him $5 to play along, but he doesn't like the idea of being used like a piece of meat so he causes the one sister the fall into an ash pile. The other sister thinks that was grand and tells Powell so. He takes a liking to her and she even more so to him. He comes along with her, she wins and offers him a job as their new butler.

The next morning he shows up and soon realizes the entire family is spoiled as fook and totally crazy. He stays on as the butler anyway.  The family starts to take a liking to him they realize he's not quite who he seems to be...

The majority of professional critics love this movie, probably because he has a deep social commentary going on beneath the surface, but I'm not a professional critic, just a big dummy who likes his screwballs comedies to actually be funny. I enjoyed MY MAN GODFREY, but I didn't laugh at all. It just wasn't funny. Other Powell screwball comedies of the time like LIBELED LADY or LOVE CRAZY are funny, light-hearted and delightful, but MY MAN GODFREY is kinda a downer with all the homeless people and nonstop talk about money and poverty.

Very much worth a watch (Carole Lombard is worth the piece of admission alone), but it not nearly as knee-slappingly funny as you've been lead to believe.

An odd bit of trivia you might not know: Powell and Lombard had been married in real life, but got divorced in 1933 and from what I've read Powell actually recommended Lombard for the role.
Franklin Pangborn

That is not William Powell. Must be a stunt double.