10/4/12: My Man Godfrey (1936)

“Can any of you butle? We’re fresh out of butlers. The one we had here left this morning.”

Gregory La Cava’s 1936 classic, My Man Godfrey, is based on Eric Hatch’s novel 1101 Park Avenue. It takes place during The Great Depression and tells the story of the wealthy, dysfunctional New York family, the Bullocks: Ditzy, sweet Irene (lead actress Carole Lombard); her very spoiled & mean sister Cornelia (Gail Patrick); their stern but fair Father, Alexander (Eugene Pallett); and Mother, Angelica, who’s personality is a bit of each of them (Alice Brady). Their servants: Butler Godfrey (lead actor William Powell); and maid Molly (Jean Dixon). And Mother’s protege: Shiftless & lazy Carlo (Mischa Auer) & his insatiable appetite. Molly, who is used to the Bullock craziness, is a family staple but they can’t seem to keep a butler. Until one night on a scavenger hunt, Cornelia & Irene meet Godfrey, “a forgotten man”, living at dump under the 59th Street Bridge. Godfrey instantly dislikes Cornelia, but really likes Irene. Both feelings are mutual but Irene manages to hire Godfrey as the new butler, despite Mother’s objections.

My Man Godfrey was nominated for 6 Oscars at the 9th Academy Awards, all 6 of the 7 big Awards for which it was eligible: Actor & Actress; Supporting Actor & Actress in the year the Awards were introduced, Auer & Brady; Director; and Adapted Screenplay (Hatch & Morrie Ryskind). It’s the only movie to ever get nominated for the other big 6 without being nominated for Best Picture. It’s also the only movie to ever get those 6 nominations and win none.


Powell & Lombard were married in 1931 & divorced in 1933, 3 years before My Man Godfrey’s release. Despite the break-up, when Powell was offered the role of Godfrey, he was adamant that Carole was the perfect Irene. 3 years later she famously married Clark Gable; 3 years after, on January 16 of 1942, Carole Lombard died tragically in a plane crash in the mountains southwest of Vegas. She was just 33 years of age.

There is a big continuity mistake in My Man Godfrey. The link to the whole movie is below. Watch to see if you can find it. And if, like me until 2 days ago, you’ve never seem this great 30’s comedy, take 95 minutes out of your day to relax & enjoy Gregory La Cava’s My Man Godfrey. You’ll be surprised at just how current it is. 4 Stars!


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