Monday, October 8, 2012

Family Movie Night: My Man Godfrey

Title: My Man Godfrey
Director: Gregory La Cava
Original Release: 1936
Choice: My Wife's
My Overall Rating: 3 stars out of 5
Image via Wikipedia

We had guests for Family Movie Night this week.  Our Oscar party hosts joined us for the evening.  Screwball comedies from the 1930s and '40s are one of My Wife's great passions.  Combining it with her enthusiasms for good food (a taco buffet dinner in this case) and good company seems only natural.

My Man Godfrey was a big hit for Universal in '36.  Starring William Powell (better known for his role in the Thin Man movies) and, intriguingly, his ex-wife Carole Lombard, the film is based on the short story "1101 Park Avenue" by Eric Hatch.  A socialite hires a "forgotten man" out of the Hooverville slums of New York to be the family butler.  The family are all crazy and, needless to say, madcap antics ensue.  Powell (Godfrey, the butler) was under contract with MGM at the time and, in agreeing to the project, insisted that Lombard be cast as Irene (the socialite).

The film was nominated for six Academy Awards but didn't win any.  It is, in fact, the only film ever to be nominated for best director, best writing and all four acting awards yet go home empty.  Over the decades since, critical appreciation for the film has increased.  AFI listed it at #44 on its list of 100 funniest comedies.

Multi-generational considerations:
  • Our Girl was lukewarm on watching with us at all and didn't make it all the way through, actually preferring to go to bed instead.  She did manage to grasp the basic comic elements of the story, if not all of the dialogue's subtle humor.  To her credit, she is not one to dismiss black-and-white movies out of hand - just not quite ready for this one.

My Rating System:

5 = The best of the best.  These are the films by which I judge other films.
4 = High quality films which I feel could hold up well in repeated viewings.
3 = The vast majority of films.  They're fine.  Once was enough.
2 = I wasn't even sure I wanted to finish it.  It's not a 1 because I'm not prepared to say it's a terrible film - just not my cup of tea.
1 = A terrible film.  An insult to the art form.


  1. I absolutely can not wait for the next evening!!

    1. I'm working on encouraging another installment. Meanwhile, we're looking forward to our upcoming gathering on Saturday!

  2. That's kind of cool that you have movie night and watch these old movies. When I was a kid I was hooked on all the old black and white movies from the thirties and forties. They would show them all day on Saturday (before cable). Don't remember this one, but I may have seen it. I watched a lot of the Thin Man movies too.

    1. Do you have a favorite from that era? I'm partial to "The Philadelphia Story."