Unranked: My Man Godfrey

Welcome to a new feature, featuring quick, much breezier reviews of movies that either are not on imdb's top 250 (and a few from 160-250 that weren't on it before).

In short, just random stuff. A chief motivation for this is that I recently signed up for Netflix instant, which is probably the reason the internet was invented in the first place. And it's only eight bucks a month, which is less than the cost of one movie ticket.

Now, I know that the top 250 entries can get kind of silly, but these will be even sillier, mostly because the majority of what I find to watch is screwball comedies. Let's get started!

My Man Godfrey

What is it?

A classic screwball, one that falls squarely into the 'Rich People Be Crazy' sub-genre. I would guess that people liked to mock the wealthy during the Great Depression, and this was right in the middle of it (1936).

Who's Godfrey, then?

He's a forgotten man, played by the super-suave William Powell, that two daffy rich sisters try to recruit as part of a scavenger hunt. He pushes the arrogant sister into an ash pile, and accompanies the nicer (but considerably wackier) one to help her win the hunt. She hires him as the new family butler, which leads to both sisters and the family maid falling in love with him.

How creepy is the age difference?

As we'll soon see, this is an essential question of pretty much every old movie that features romance of any kind, even silly romance like My Man Godfrey. In this case we have Powell, 44, eventually ending up with Carole Lombard, 28. So... just a little creepy.

Though for a good portion of the movie I thought Godfrey was headed toward the other sister, played by the 25-year-old Gail Patrick. The actress playing the maid (Jean Dixon) was 40, incidentally.

Is there a wacky foreign dude?

Of course there is! Seemingly a staple of lampooning high society, here we get Carlo, a piano 'prodigy' that the mother of the family is 'mentoring,' who only seems to know one song (and is constantly stuffing his face with food, or acting like a monkey to amuse his benefactor).

Should it be on the countdown?

I say yes, but just barely. Here's the thing: it's wonderfully funny, with plenty of great quips from Powell (and Eugene Pallette, who played a lot of rich fathers back in the day), but Carole Lombard rubbed me the wrong way. She just seemed shrill and nuts and stalkery.

This could be just me- after all, Katherine Hepburn does mostly the same thing in Bringing Up Baby and it worked for me then. But Powell seems to have a lot more chemistry with the other, haughtier daughter, Gail Patrick. There's even a movement to their relationship during the story, wherein she tries to frame him for theivery and eventually realizes how shallow she's been.

Lombard just doggedly clings to Powell until, dazed, she arranges to marry him at the film's end. What?

Also in favor of the film is the inventive title sequence, which is a long pan over marquee lights (as in the still above).

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