My Man Godfrey (1936)
December 5, 2022 2:39 PM - Subscribe

A scatterbrained socialite hires a vagrant as a family butler - but there's more to Godfrey than meets the eye. Trailer.

97% on Rotten Tomatoes; available in the U.S. on Hoopla, Tubi, Pluto, etc. and on the Criterion Channel, as well as for rent on various services. JustWatch listing.
posted by johnofjack (7 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

Critics always list Bringing Up Baby or His Girl Friday for screwball comedies but I adore William Powell so this is tops for me. I’m less of a Lombard fan but the rest of the cast is excellent, especially Jean Dixon as Molly. It ends like this:

Stand still, Godfrey. It'll all be over in a minute.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 4:56 PM on December 5, 2022 [3 favorites]

Such a good, funny, movie.

I agree about William Powell. He’s just so effortlessly good. Like, he shows up, glances at the script, then kills it. But in such a quiet, urbane way.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:53 PM on December 5, 2022 [5 favorites]

.....So I'm the only one that thinks that the surprise wedding at the end is exploitative?

Mind you, I did like much about this, but that bit at the very end just left me scratching my head.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:19 PM on December 5, 2022 [1 favorite]

Oh, no, it's definitely weird on the wedding. The entire relationship is weird.
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:08 PM on December 6, 2022 [2 favorites]

Such a great movie.

I think the wedding at the end is a trope from the stock plot of Roman comedy, and the film is definitely working within or inspired by the tropes of the genre.

I found this essay by Norman Holland that points out the stock types in the film: "Carlo is a parasite in the family, a sponger always eating. As such he plays a role, one of the stock characters of Roman comedies, particularly those of Plautus who focused on disordered families like the Bullocks. Other characters echo Roman comedy. The maid Molly is the ancilla. Mrs. B. is the matrona or mother. Cornelia’s 'faithful George' is the lovelorn adulescens, and she, perhaps, the meretrix. the bad woman, while Irene is her opposite, the optimistic virgo. Mr. B. is the father-figure, the senex. ('Bullock' means a castrated bull.) Godfrey is the servus callidus, the clever slave who makes everything turn out all right (think Zero Mostel in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum)."
posted by mmmbacon at 7:30 AM on December 7, 2022 [3 favorites]

I don't really know anything about Roman comedy, but I can say that I don't usually find relatable behavior in screwball films. I don't know if that's meant to be one of the hallmarks of the genre, and the Wikipedia page isn't much help in that regard. (If I'm being maybe a bit too frank, I also haven't enjoyed most of the films listed under "classic period" or "later examples." I think I've seen about two dozen of them and would recommend four or five. At this point, they've become one of those things I keep trying hoping eventually to enjoy them, a bit like an Onion article).
posted by johnofjack at 2:42 PM on December 7, 2022

Since this is a pre-code picture, My read on it was that Carlo was Mrs. Bullock's lover. “Ochi Chernye” has become code in my house for polyamory.
posted by holborne at 5:45 AM on December 10, 2022

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