My Man Godfrey: A taste of history

Gary Wolcott, atomictown.comDecember 4, 2013 

William Powell is Godfrey. He's down and out and living in a landfill when a wealthy socialite takes pity on him and hires Godfrey to be her dysfunctional family's butler. Turns out, Godfrey used to be rich and is a pretty good butler.

Godfrey's interaction with each family member is the wheel the comic action revolves around. The rest of the cast includes a terrific comic turn from Carole Lombard and a nice performance from frog-voiced, big-bellied and legendary Eugene Pallette. Also in the cast is Alan Mowbray, who is one of the co-founders of the Screen Actors Guild.

The silly plot is entertaining from starting point to finish line. Lombard's over-the-top performance is hilarious, and Powell's steady Eddie provides an anchor for Lombard.

This one is full of historical significance. It is the first movie to get Oscar nominations in all four acting categories and not be included as a Best Picture. By the way, none of the actors won, and neither did director Gregory La Cava. Godfrey is also the only flick to ever be nominated in six categories and not take home at least one award.

The U.S. Library of Congress deemed My Man Godfrey as culturally significant in 1999, and the American Film Institute says it's one of the top 50 funniest movies of all time.

That's debatable.

Most movies are made to be shown on a screen much larger than what we have in our living rooms. So it's fun once in a while to dip into antiquity and pull up a bit of history. This is one of those times. Don't miss this one.

Director: Gregory La Cava

Stars: William Powell, Carole Lombard, Eugene Pallette

Mr. Movie rating: 4 stars

Not rated, probably PG for some mature themes. It plays Friday, December 6 only at the Battelle Auditorium at 8:00 p.m.

5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen

4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.

3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on DVD.

2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.

0 stars: Speaks for itself.

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