My Man Godfrey

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A wonderful screwball comedy from the mid-1930s, nominated for six Oscars. Somehow I'd missed seeing it until now.

Godfrey (played by William Powell) is down on his luck, living (literally) in a dump down by the East River. One fine evening, his life is interrupted by the Bullock sisters, in search of a "forgotten man" for their socialite scavenger hut. (And for the background of that phrase, see this interview with Amity Shlaes.)

One sister, Cornelia, is supercilious and condescending, and gets a quick brush-off from Godfrey. But the second, Irene (played by Carole Lombard) is sweet and daffy, and Godfrey gets intrigued. He agrees to be her "forgotten man", wins the scavenger hunt for her, and wangles a job as the Bullock family butler.

Soon he's deeply involved with the colorful Bullock family. In addition to sour Cornelia and sweet Irene, there's the father, teetering on the edge of financial ruin, the scatterbrained mother, the mother's freeloading "protégé" Carlos, and cynical housekeeper Molly. And it turns out that Godfrey is no ordinary bum, but has secrets of his own.

Really, has there ever been a cooler actor than William Powell? Maybe Cary Grant, but it's close.

Consumer note: My Man Godfrey is in the public domain, and (hence) there are a lot of different DVDs out there. The one I got from Netflix was manufactured by "Westlake Entertainment", and was pretty low quality: a dull picture with scratches and pops, and very muddy sound. (It was not the same version as that pictured on Netflix's website.) If you browse over to Amazon with a thought to purchase, you'll find a variety of DVDs, read the reviews carefully, buyer beware.

Last Modified 2012-10-05 8:54 AM EST