I guess, technically, I should have included My Man Godfrey in my Blind Spot Series. Yes, I did see this movie as a kid, but after rewatching it I realized I hardly remembered a lick of it. And happier I couldn't be. It was like seeing the movie for the first time all over again. This Depression-era screwball comedy is every bit as clever and, well, funny as I vaguely remembered.
As I'm sure I've mentioned before (but can't bother to look up in my blog history), rare was it that Depression-era flicks actually dealt with, you know, the Depression. After all, as we all know from Sullivan's Travels, folks suffering through this ordeal didn't want to be reminded of the shittiness of their condition; they instead sought escapist fare. But every now and then, some Depression-era flicks would deal head-on with the realities of the time—though, rarely did they in a depressing manner. (Those that did, like Make Way for Tomorrow, were doomed to not make money.)
So, it isn't surprising that Gregory La Cava's Depression-tinged satire My Man Godfrey—though more biting a social commentary you are not likely to see—was at its core a light-hearted romp.
By the way, before delving into the plot, I want to point out that, for this piece, I hired a crack team of young coolness scientists to like totally enable my blog to be like more totally hip and cool for the youngsters. Seeing as I'm always eager to appeal to the coveted 18-49 demographic, I thought I'd youngify this review and make this old movie like totally relatable to my groovy young readership.
That being said...
The wealthy Bullock family at the center of My Man Godfrey is a member of that all important (and completely necessary) leisure class, a group all too often derided by people who are probably just jealous. These vacuous socialites take special pride in cruelly mocking—both by the shameless flaunting of their grossly undeserved privilege and the very fact of their pointless existence—those unfortunate enough to not be born into their social class, as well as the notion of a just universe. Here is an artist's rendering of what they would look like today:
The father of the clan is none too pleased with the way his wife and daughters wantonly spend money and flaunt their uselessness. But the unfortunate-faced sap has no other recourse than to be equally useless himself. Here is an artist's rendering of the modern version of this man:
With an aim to achieve complete despicability, the Bullocks join other members of their social class in engaging in a jolly fun scavenger hunt. What's so despicable about that, you ask. One of the objectives of the scavenger hunt: find a forgotten man (euphemism for hobo) and bring him to the Waldorf for to be mocked. (Yes, it's a notch above bum fights but the sadism comes from the same place.)
Flighty daughter Irene (Carole Lombard) finds the perfect forgotten man in the form of erudite Godfrey (William Powell). And after becoming smitten with the man, Irene takes him on as the family butler.
Here's an artist's rendering of what Godfrey would look like today:
I said this is an artist's rendering of what Godfrey would look like today:
(more throat clearing)
OK, apparently my website-groovifiers didn't do enough research to find a modern corollary to William Powell's character. No worries. We'll just leave that blank for now.
Anyway, try as she might, Irene just can't excite the interest of her homeless butler Godfrey. So as a way to to make Godfrey jealous, Irene pretends to fall in love with a moron of a man, eventually getting engaged to the sap. She takes advantage of this dim-witted young boob; and the dim-bulb is certain the socialite has fallen for him. Of course, she callously dumps this dumb dumb as soon as he is no longer useful to her. Here is an artist's rendering of what this man would look like today:
And then other stuff happens: secrets are reveleaed and funniness ensues.
Now, obviously, being as My Man Godfrey was made like a billion years ago, it is hardly relatable to today's audiences. Nevertheless, it ultimately leaves us with a message that is as true today as it was back then: Rich people are assholes.
But, fuck it all; who cares about my review. You gotta check out Carole Lombard and William Powell swearing: