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My Man Godfrey (1936)

8.1
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Ratings: 8.1/10 from 13,770 users  
Reviews: 298 user | 82 critic

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

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(screen play), (screen play), 4 more credits »
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Title: My Man Godfrey (1936)

My Man Godfrey (1936) on IMDb 8.1/10

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Nominated for 6 Oscars. Another 1 win. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
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Gail Patrick ...
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Jean Dixon ...
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Robert Light ...
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Storyline

In the depths of the Depression, a party game brings dizzy socialite Irene Bullock to the city dump where she meets Godfrey, a derelict, and ends by hiring him as family butler. He finds the Bullocks to be the epitome of idle rich, and nutty as the proverbial fruitcake. Soon, the dramatizing Irene is in love with her 'protege'...who feels strongly that a romance between servant and employer is out of place, regardless of that servant's mysterious past... Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Romance | Comedy

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

17 September 1936 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Al servicio de las damas  »

Box Office

Budget:

$656,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (2005 DVD release)

Sound Mix:

(Western Noiseless Recording Electric)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Mischa Auer's character Carlo repeatedly sings "Ochi Chornya" in this movie. Nine years later in And Then There Were None (1945) his character Prince Nikita Starloff begins playing the first few notes of "Ochi Chornya" on the piano before meeting his demise. See more »

Goofs

In the living room scene just after the PARK AVENUE CHATTER column that appears, Cornelia's magazine changes. At first, Cornelia picks up a magazine having a dark stripe along the top and bottom of the front cover, then the magazine has a lighter front cover and a woman (resembling her) in an ad on the back cover. As Cornelia moves over to the couch, the magazine changes back to the original one; further, it reveals a star shape on the front cover and a non-portrait on the back cover. See more »

Quotes

Cornelia Bullock: You can't go on like this forever. You really like me and you're afraid to admit it, aren't you?
Godfrey: You want me to tell you what I REALLY think of you?
Cornelia Bullock: Please do.
Godfrey: As Smith or as a butler?
Cornelia Bullock: Choose your own weapon.
Godfrey: You won't hold it against me?
Cornelia Bullock: It's your day off.
Godfrey: Very well. You belong to that unfortunate category that I would call the "Park Avenue brat". A spoiled child who's grown up in ease and luxury... who's always had her own way... and who's misdirected energies are so childish that they hardly...
[...]
See more »

Crazy Credits

The opening credits features a darkened city skyline and the names of the cast and crew appear as the camera pans across lighted billboards and neon signs. See more »

Connections

Spoofed in Daffy Dilly (1948) See more »

Soundtracks

Ochi Chyornye (Dark Eyes)
(1843) (uncredited)
Alternately spelled "Ochi (or Otchi) Tchornya (or Chornya, Choirni, Tchorniya)
Lyrics by Yevhen Hrebinka
Played on piano and sung often by Mischa Auer
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Set Firmly In The Depression
5 February 2007 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

For his second Academy Award nomination for Best Actor William Powell was loaned to Universal for My Man Godfrey. At the time this film was made there was a lot of buzz about Powell working with Carole Lombard who only a few years earlier he had been married to. They needn't have worried. The split was an amicable one and Powell and Lombard got along great on the set and created along with Director Gregory LaCava one of the classic screwball comedies of the Thirties.

In fact My Man Godfrey got a whole host of nominations, for LaCava for Best Director, for Carole Lombard, for Mischa Auer for Best Supporting Actor and Alice Brady for Best Supporting Actress. In the very first year of the Supporting categories, My Man Godfrey had nominees in all the acting categories, but failed to win any awards. Curiously enough, it wasn't nominated for Best Picture.

The Bulloch sisters Carole Lombard and Gail Patrick a pair of ditzy society girls are on a scavenger hunt which takes them to the city dump where they are to find a forgotten man. The expression is taken from Franklin D. Roosevelt who called those who were out of work and without hope forgotten men. The phrase had a lot of currency back in the day.

In fact My Man Godfrey's origins are rooted in the Depression Years. When Powell turns down Patrick's invitation to be her trophy in the scavenger hunt, he accepts Lombard's. It turns out he's no ordinary forgotten man, he is the heir to a large estate held by a prominent Boston WASP family. But that's a fact he conceals from the Bulloch sisters when he's hired as their butler.

His time with the Bulloch family is a learning experience indeed for both of them. The Depression hasn't hit these two girls, but it almost does save for Powell's financial acumen.

As I said the film is firmly ground in those years of the Depression and the New Deal. It's hard to fathom, but when FDR took office on March 4, 1933, twenty five percent of the workforce was unemployed. Today if the number reaches above five percent the doomsayers are calling it a depression. I remember an uncle of mine telling me that when he graduated high school in 1937 a year after My Man Godfrey he could not get work for over 2 years until America went on a war footing before Pearl Harbor. After that he got drafted and didn't have to worry about a job for a few years. He might have been living just like the men in the city dump, but for the fact my grandparents had jobs and kept a roof over everyone's head.

Mischa Auer plays Carlo, a kind of permanent houseguest of Alice Brady as Mrs. Bulloch. In today's world long after the Code has been repealed, Auer might well have been more explicitly gay.

Eugene Palette is Mr. Bulloch who freely admits he lives in a house of scatterbrains. Though he got no nominations his playing of the Bulloch patriarch set a standard for him in playing a host of put upon fathers.

In 1957 My Man Godfrey was remade with David Niven and June Allyson co-starring. Neither of the leads lacked for the charm needed to put over the story, but instead of The Great Depression, David Niven is an illegal alien looking to get a visa. You don't quite feel for him as you do for the jobless and hopeless William Powell.

If My Man Godfrey is ever remade in the modern era, let's hope they keep the economic underpinnings of this classic screwball comedy, even if they don't take it back to the Depression Years.


26 of 35 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Does anyone else feel sorry for Godfrey ar the end? pandora8
Irene's infatuation angelexposed
Poor Carlo! MissMcCrocodile
Favorite Bullock? Alix1929
Patrick Underrated billellis
Is Powell best ever comedic drunk? tim-764-291856
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