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My Man Godfrey
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A landmark screwball comedy from Hollywood’s golden age, My Man Godfrey follows the madcap antics of a ditzy debutante (Carole Lombard) who stumbles upon a “forgotten man” (William Powell) at the city dump. Determined to help Godfrey out, she offers him work in her household and he soon becomes the perfect butler for her eccentric family. As the family’s antics grow increasingly more absurd, it is only a matter of time before Godfrey’s secret past is revealed. Featuring brilliant comedic performances by Carole Lombard and William Powell along with Mischa Auer and Alice Brady, this timeless comedy classic was the first film ever to receive Academy Award nominations in all four acting categories.
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The epitome of the 1930's gentleman!
Godfrey starts in this film, derelict, and penny-less. Finds himself adopted in the ridiculing party game of the elite.
He is ushered in to be a part of a scavenger hunt, the wealthy play a game with people's hearts. However, this back-fired on this one un-seemingly simple wealthy gal who fell in-love with Godfrey.
It's the kind of movie you want to see, to show exactly how beautiful, how exciting, and how fun life was back in the golden-age of cinema!
If you've not met William Powell in film yet, I feel so saddened, and dismayed that you have missed so much!
If you have met William Powell, this is a MUST-ADD to your collections!
The list for a charity scavenger hunt includes "lost man." Scatterbrained Irene Bullock (Carole Lombard) is about to lose to her nasty sister, until "lost man" Godfrey (William Powell) volunteers to help her. As a reward, Irene makes Godfrey the new butler for her moneyed Park Avenue family, who turns out to be kind of crazy -- a long-suffering dad, cruel sister, and a mom who sees gnomes.
And it soon becomes clear that Irene has a massive crush on Godfrey, but not only does he reject her, but he keeps his past a secret. And her spiteful sister Cornelia (Gail Patrick) is planning to get back at Godfrey for humiliating her, by framing him for a theft...
Basically "My Man Godfrey" is just a cute little upper-crust storyline of the type that was popular in the 1930s, so people could ignore their Depression troubles for a few hours. And it succeeds at being a solid little comedy -- not quite screwball but occasionally verging on it.
For the first half, we're basically treated to the wacky antics of Irene's family (including a horse in the study), and Godfrey's mild disbelief at what a bunch of weirdos they are. And after that it gets more serious, with Cornelia's war on Godfrey, but the kooky comedy is kept up through witty dialogue and warped family encounters. ("Take a look at the dizzy old gal with the goat." "I've had to look at her for 20 years - that's MRS. Bullock!" "I'm terribly sorry!" "How do you think I feel?").
The only real problem is Godfrey and Irene. They make a cute couple, and ex-hubby-and-wife Powell and Lombard have some nice chemistry. Unfortunately the ending seems very contrived, since Godfrey never gives even the slightest indication that he even really likes Irene, let alone loves her. Not a word, not a gesture.
But taken apart, they do a brilliant job -- Lombard pouts, bubbles, cries and generally flakes around as the scatterbrained Irene, who doesn't recognize Godfrey after he shaves off "those nice whiskers." And Powell has his usual wry, brainy charm, but with a slightly sarcastic edge. Eugene Pallette and Alice Brady are also fun as Irene's longsuffering dad and flaky mom.
"My Man Godfrey" is a classic little comedy of flaky socialites and secretive butlers -- just on this side of screwball. Charming and quirky.
The film was deemed "culturally significant" back in 1999 and was selected by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.
"My Man Godfrey" has been available many times on DVD with the most significant release from The Criterion Collection back in 2001 which included a new digital transfer, audio commentary, rare outttakes (which can be found on YouTube) and the complete 1938 broadcast of the Lux Radio Theater adaptation. But in 2005, Legend Films had their own release of "My Man Godfrey" and this time using their latest technology of colorization and presenting both the original black and white feature plus their colorized version on one DVD disc. The difference between the two is that the Criterion Collection version cost around $[...], the Legend Films version can be found under $[...].
Having watched the film in black and white and enjoying the film, I was curious to see how colorization had improved since the analog Ted Turner colorized films of the early '90s. According to Legend Films, before beginning their colorization, they thoroughly research the era when the film was made to ensure that every color and hue is historically accurate. Then, each frame is individually colorized.
For me, this would be an interesting experience to see if colorization of a black and white film is still worth watching. The experience was for me, not that great back in the early 90's but with technology advancements, I would hope things to look much better today.
VIDEO & AUDIO:
"My Man Godfrey" has been presented in various formats and having seen the film via public domain and from what I've read from other reviews of other DVD's, The Criterion Collection and the Legends film versions are the best out there right now.
With that being said, The Criterion Collection went through digital restoration and remastering when they released the film. As for this Legend Films version, we get the original theatrical trailer in black and white and the colorized version. And the film on this Legend Films DVD has been remastered and restored as well.
Both versions of the film are presented in full frame (aspect ratio 1:33:1) definitely has its share of scratches, dust and warping but it's not bad compared to the public domain videos I have seen of the film. The black and white version offered on this DVD has nice deep blacks, clear grays and its share of grain.
The colorized version is actually well done and I can definitely see major improvement versus the colorized films I watched back in the '90s. But there are instances where people and objects in the background tend to have this gray tinge at times (which is very few) but one thing I noticed is how fire looks very real with its orange colors, how certain clothing and objects nicely shimmers through various lighting. The films has plenty of crowd scenes and those scenes with characters wearing different colors worked quite well. Noticed the coloration of the hair and the animals that were done quite well. But most strikingly the blue eyes of William Powell and Carole Lombard which looks great. So, overall The colorization of "My Man Godfrey" is very well done.
As for audio, the film is presented in monaural. For those with a current home theater receiver and a good speaker setup may find setting audio settings with stereo on all channels for a more immersive soundtrack.
Despite the packaging saying that this DVD does include English subtitles, there are NO subtitles included on either the color or B&W version of the film.
"My Man Godfrey" comes with a colorized theatrical trailer (:54).
"My Man Godfrey" is one of the best screwball comedies of American cinema.
The film is witty, charming and just fun and delightful. Carole Lombard shows off her comedic talent and it's quite interesting to see her character of Irene interacting with her older sister Cornelia (Gail Patrick). Around Godfrey, Irene is naive and just head over heels for him, while with Cornelia she changes to this pushy younger sister who is quick to anger and when around her father, she's like the young daughter wanting her father to comfort her. It's her actions that make this film quite intriguing and makes you wonder if she's a bit off.
But like Irene, her mother is a much more naive person who is not hip to the jargon used by her daughters. Alice Brady does a fine job of playing the mother Angelica Bullock and nearly retains that comedic flare that she did in the Astaire/Rogers film "The Gay Divorcee". Eugene Pallette plays the perfect, no-nonsense father and last but not least, William Powell as the suave and cool, Godfrey.
"My Man Godfrey" benefits from star talent, a hilarious and witty screenplay but also beautiful production quality on the sets and also costume design. I do feel that "My Man Godfrey" ends abruptly in the most screwball type of way. So, I suppose the ending is quite appropriate.
Overall, "My Man Godfrey" is one of those films that classic movie fans should have in their collection. Granted, the Criterion Collection version has the most features but is the most expensive of the bunch at $[...]. For those who don't need the scholar commentary or radio show, then this DVD version of "My Man Godfrey" is definitely worth it as you get two versions of the film and you can find the DVD at under $[...] .
If you enjoy "My Man Godfrey",this Legend Films release is definitely a DVD worth picking up!
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