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Classic of the Week: My Man Godfrey (1936)


My Man Godfrey is a 1936 American screwball comedy directed by Gregory La Cava and follows the story of a socialite who hires a college educated bum to be family’s butler, but ends up falling in love with him. The film stars Carole Lombard and William Powell.

This film has been remade several times, but no other version has come close to being as good as this one. This film, although labeled a comedy, at times is rather serious, like the mystery of the stolen pearls scene. But there are laugh out loud moments, like the famous scene where Godfrey (Powell) throws drunk Irene Bullock (Lombard) in the shower and sprays her fully clothed with cold water.

Throughout the film, Irene falls deeper in love with Godfrey, despite him not being in love with her until the end. Irene tries and tries to get him to fall for her, but he is uninterested, even saying that she is trying to hard. He leaves and gets a job at nightclub that his friend Tommy owns. Irene finds out about his new job and goes to Godfrey’s apartment, asking him to marry her and they spiffy up his place. He is reluctant at first, but after a few minutes, he confesses his love for her and agrees.

Carole Lombard is fabulous as Irene Bullock and William Powell is equally fantastic as Godfrey. Their chemistry is great, as they had been previously married briefly. Irene is a bit too strong in her flintiness and Godfrey is a bit clumsy and rude at times, but the characters lighten up and learn how to be a proper lady and a proper gentleman.

This is not your average screwball comedy, because it has more serious moments than many others, like It Happened One Night, Bringing Up Baby and Holiday. But it is still a classic. It still manages to make you cry, angry and laugh. It has a few tough moments, a few awkward ones and is also heartwarming. Irene can be a rather annoying character, but this film wouldn’t be the same without her.

Carole Lombard and William Powell together made this film outstanding in nearly every way. Sure some things could have been done without, but it is still great and doesn’t ever disappoint. It has the right amount of bitter and sweet and is one that can be watched over and over without getting boring. This film will make you laugh until you cry, then end with a smile. 8+ 4/5

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