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My Man Godfrey (1936)

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

Director:

Gregory La Cava

Writers:

Morrie Ryskind (screen play), Eric Hatch (screen play) | 1 more credit »
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1,535 ( 6,449)
Nominated for 6 Oscars. Another 1 win. See more awards »

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The eccentric Bullock household again need a new butler. Daughter Irene encounters bedraggled Godfrey Godfrey at the docks and, fancying him and noticing his obviously good manners, gets ... See full summary »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
William Powell ... Godfrey
Carole Lombard ... Irene Bullock
Alice Brady ... Angelica Bullock
Gail Patrick ... Cornelia Bullock
Eugene Pallette ... Alexander Bullock
Jean Dixon ... Molly
Alan Mowbray ... Tommy Gray
Mischa Auer ... Carlo
Pat Flaherty ... Mike Flaherty
Robert Light ... Faithful George
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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:

Comedy | Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Russian

Release Date:

6 September 1936 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Al servicio de las damas See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$656,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (DVD)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Noiseless Recording Electric)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Included among the American Film Institute's 2000 list of the Top 100 Funniest American Movies. See more »

Goofs

When Irene first goes into Godfrey's room the door opens to the right, in the direction of the kitchen - revealing Molly standing in the background. In the next shot the door is open on the left, in the direction of the bedroom. See more »

Quotes

Alexander Bullock: We've got to come to an understanding right now: either Carlo is or I am.
Angelica Bullock: Am what?
Alexander Bullock: Well, one of us has got to and that's all there is to it.
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

Referenced in White Collar: Master Plan (2013) 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

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User Reviews

 
Set Firmly In The Depression
5 February 2007 | by bkoganbingSee 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.


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