"Can I Be Frank?" "Is That Your Name?" "No, My Name's Godfrey!"

My Man Godfrey.
The definitive American screwball comedy, a genuinely funny movie and a landmark in cinema. The overlapping dialogue and rapid fire nonstop jokes preceded (and likely inspired) Howard Hawk’s 1940 classic His Girl Friday. William Powell’s (Somewhat) understated and subtle performance works better here than Cary Grant’s over the top Walter Burns would have.

A poster child for the poor quality of film preservation, the ne Criterion release presents it in a new light. (God I need about $1000 for my DVD collection.)The script and the direction are superb, and subtlety and nuance are not out of the range of Lombard and Brady’s melodramatic playgirls. Gail Patrick provides the anchor with her brooding and scheming portrayal of Cornelia.

The cinematography is a prime example of the evident dominant flmmaking theory in Holywood in the thirties. The camera is purely utilitarian. As Ebert put it his commentary on Casablanca, there are no shots for the sake of a shot. The camera exists as an impartial narrator, there simply to tell the story.

Overall, a landmark American film. Discuss.

Goddammit, discuss I said! Discuss!!!

I recently watched the Criterion 3 times in one sitting. Hoot.

Except, of course, that Howard Hawks did it even earlier (and IMHO superior) in Twentieth Century, also with Lombard, teamed this time with John Barrymore (who was never better).

I’ve never cared too much for Godfrey. Powell is excellent and Mischa Auer’s a riot, but Lombard grates on my nerves like never before. I love her stylings in Century, Nothing Sacred, To Be or Not To Be and Mr. and Mrs. Smith (for starters), but she played smart women in all those roles, while in Godfrey, she’s infantalized excessively, to the point that I don’t feel much sympathy for her and never buy the subsequent romance that emerges. Then again, I’ve never been much of a fan of La Cava–his approach is too ham-fisted, and he bludgeons when the material could use a subtler hand (though this actually worked to his advantage in Gabriel Over the White House). Still, the movie does have its moments, though there are quite a lot of screwballs I like better.

Interestingly, Godfrey, IIRC, is the only film to get Oscar nominations in all four acting categories as well as Director, but not earn a Picture nod.

I should also note that another thing Godfrey suffers from (through no fault of its own) is that it’s strongly rooted in the socio-economic situation of the time. Although other screwballs were set in “modern” settings as well, they were romantic comedies first, with a lot of the insights about class nested in the background. For Godfrey, the social commentary is front-and-center, which makes it feel more like a tract and less a farce (which returns back to La Cava’s heavy hand). Definitely an artifact of the time, it dates much more than the Capra, Lubitsch, Hawks and Sturges films of the period.

I don’t feel that it dates that badly. Yes, La Cava beats you over the head, but I think it works to the advantage of a farce, as in this case.

And lissener, don’t taunt me like that! :smiley:

I love this movie, and it has the funniest closing line in movie history. (Some Like it Hot be damned.)

The Depression background is so extraordinarily important to the film that one wonders why anybody in their right minds would have remade the movie in 1957.

But they did. And on the IMDB it gets some favorable reviews.

Madness, I say. Sheer madness.