Merrily We Live (1938)

Passed  |   |  Comedy, Romance  |  4 March 1938 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 959 users  
Reviews: 42 user | 5 critic

Dizzy society matron Emily Kilbourne has a habit of hiring ex-cons and hobos as servants. Her latest find is a handsome "tramp" who shows up at her doorstep and soon ends up in a ... See full summary »



(screen play), (screen play), 3 more credits »
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Nominated for 5 Oscars. See more awards »



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Complete credited cast:
Grosvenor - Butler
Minerva Harlan
Clarence Kolb ...
Marjorie Rambeau ...
Mrs. Harlan
Phillip Reed ...
Herbert Wheeler
Willie Best ...
Sidney Bracey ...
2nd Butler
Paul Everton ...
Senator Harlan
Marjorie Kane ...


Dizzy society matron Emily Kilbourne has a habit of hiring ex-cons and hobos as servants. Her latest find is a handsome "tramp" who shows up at her doorstep and soon ends up in a chauffeur's uniform. He also catches the eye of her pretty Geraldine. Written by Daniel Bubbeo <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

tramp | servant | love | hobo | chauffeur | See All (56) »


Comedy | Romance


Passed | See all certifications »




Release Date:

4 March 1938 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Madame et son clochard  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Alan Mowbray, Billie Burke, and Constance Bennett had worked on director Norman Z. McLeod's previous film, Topper (1937). The commercial and critical success of Topper played a large role in their inclusion in this film. See more »


Mrs. Emily Kilbourne: Do you drive a car?
Wade Rawlins: Well, I did.
Mrs. Emily Kilbourne: Oh, but that's wonderful! Ambrose was such a poor driver, they tell me.
Marian Kilbourne: Mother, if you're thinking of asking this... this...!
Mrs. Emily Kilbourne: My mother always told me that children should be seen and not heard.
Marian Kilbourne: Yes, but your mother was smarter than my mother.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Behind the opening credits, the cast walks arm in arm up the driveway towards the camera. See more »


Version of What a Man (1930) See more »


Merrily We Live
Music by Phil Charig
Lyrics by Arthur Quenzer
Sung by an offscreen chorus during the opening and closing credits
See more »

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User Reviews

Very, very derivative BUT enjoyable!
9 September 2007 | by (Bradenton, Florida) – See all my reviews

This is hardly an original film, as it was apparently a variation on the 1930 film WHAT A MAN. Plus, it's amazingly similar to the 1936 hit film, MY MAN GODFREY. However, despite being so unoriginal, the overall film is amazingly watchable and a lot of fun.

Like in GODFREY, the rich family that is the focus of the film is amazingly ditsy and....well, nuts! Unlike GODFREY, most of the insanity is concentrated into the mother (played by Billie Burke)--though as the film progresses, you come to realize they're all touched! As for Burke, her stupid schtick wears thin at the beginning of the film (making you wonder why the other family members haven't killed her). But, fortunately, as the film continues, she is given such wonderful lines of dialog that I really am glad they didn't kill her. Additionally, the rest of the family's dialog was great as well--showing that the writers were really hitting their mark.

The film is about Burke's bizarre habit of bringing home hobos to rehabilitate them, though in many ways they were treated more like pets or toys than people. The rest of the family is sick of this because the hobos are usually thieves or opportunists, so it's no wonder that when Brian Aherne is taken in by Burke that the rest of the family is angry and wants Aherne to go. However, what's really strange is that although Aherne is dressed like a bum, he never WANTS to be saved by Burke and he more or less becomes a part of the family against his will! As the film progresses, like Godfrey, Aherne is obviously more than just a man down on his luck--leading to a dandy conclusion.

The film has excellent and well-paced direction, wonderful writing and an excellent ensemble cast. It is actually quite surprising that this film isn't more well-known, as it's one of the better comedies of the 1930s.

14 of 17 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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