Fifth Avenue socialite Irene Bullock needs a "forgotten man" to win a scavenger hunt, and no one is more forgotten than Godfrey Park, who resides in a dump by the East River. Irene hires Godfrey as a servant for her riotously unhinged family, to the chagrin of her spoiled sister, Cornelia, who tries her best to get Godfrey fired. As Irene falls for her new butler, Godfrey turns the tables and teaches the frivolous Bullocks a lesson or two.
"Forgotten Man" meets flighty, rich heiress . . . and so begins one of classic cinema's funniest, most delightful, most intelligent comedies ever. William Powell as the hobo Godfrey hits all the right notes. Carole Lombard is terrific, if slightly over the top, as Irene Bullock, the "uptown girl looking for a downtown man." What starts as an innocent city scavenger hunt becomes an unlikely romance when Irene Bullock brings home a gentlemanly bum named Godfrey and gets him hired as the new butler. Godfrey turns the household upside down (without really trying), much to the disapproval of Irene's stuffy parents (Eugene Pallette and Alice Brady). It is a shame that its style and intelligence is lost on much of today's audience, who have become so used to the usual dull, CGI-packed drivel that it is difficult for them to sit through a film like this. Brimming with wit and sophistication, this screwball comedy with a message is not to be missed. Recommended to you by yours truly, P.M. Turner of Old Hat Cinema.
I see a room full of empty headed nitwits! If I was the sort of person who scrutinised every frame of my viewings looking for flaws, then I still wouldn't have issue here because My Man Godfrey has no cracks in its make up. It is perfect cinema from a golden age that we rarely see in this day and age. During a rich person's socialite scavenger hunt, air head Irene Bullock wins the contest to see who can find a forgotten man, a hobo, and showcase him at the toffs party. She falls for the charisma of down and out Godfrey Parke and gives him the job of Butler to the family Bullock. This of course bemuses the family, even more so when Godfrey turns out to be far more than they originally thought. My Man Godfrey is one of those old classic comedies that has satire at its heart, for here the rich are firmly in the target sights of the makers, and it's they who come across as bumbling buffoons. Godfrey the hobo is the one with tact and grace, and it is he who is the one they all should take their markers from. Yet as important as the social message is, and it is, it's the brilliant comedy that shines bright and comes to the fore. This is an electric script benefiting from great work from all involved who put the words onto film. William Powell is Godfrey, it's a perfect performance as he is never flustered as he delivers the funny lines with caustic impact. Carole Lombard is just precious as the dopey love sick Irene, making her interplay with Powell as comedy gold. My favourite of the bunch, though, is Eugene Palette as Alexander, the father of this bizarro family, every mannerism and every line out of his mouth had me in utter stitches. I must also mention that of the 6 Oscars the film was nominated for, I'm stunned there wasn't one for Gail Patrick as Cornelia, it's devilishly icy and weasel like, and she impacted hard on me to the point that I wanted to strangle her, job done, a great performance from her. Truth is, they are all great, from the actors to the director, from the editor to the writer, My Man Godfrey is a truly brilliant film that easily entered my top 100 greatest films list today. 10/10
I am not one of those people who say that they don’t make movies like they used to, or who watches a lot of classic black and white films. But there are a few dozen classics I would watch any time they come on, and this is one of them. My Man Godfrey is in the sub genre of screwball comedy, and it may actually be true that they don’t make them like this any longer, because it seems like most of the wacky comedies nowadays center around bodily functions or shocking language (though I guess you can argue it isn’t shocking anymore.) Anyway, this movie had plenty of laughs, a nice story, and a romance thrown in. The two leads dominate, of course, but the whole Bullock family is well cast. The only aspect that detracted from my enjoyment at all was the Carlo character. The silly matriarch of the family is sponsoring him - A musician maybe? And I thought in a few places he was overdone, but it is a minor thing. There is a bit of a social message here, of course, concerning the have and have-not, but it doesn’t weigh down the plot. Great movie.