May I be Frank?

by chuckofish

Since there is NOTHING worth watching at the movies or on TV, and Netflix and Amazon have both let me down, I turned to Youtube, where one can often find classic films in their entirety, albeit sometimes not the best quality print. This time I got lucky and found the 1936 delight, My Man Godfrey, starring William Powell and Carole Lombard. It’s a hoot. William Powell plays Godfrey Smith (ahem), who lives in a shack down by the river with other victims of the Great Depression. Carole Lombard and her mean older sister, while competing to win a scavenger hunt, show up at the shanty town to find a “forgotten man”.

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The lovely but ditsy Irene (Lombard) falls for the older, scruffy Godfrey (Powell) and promptly hires him to be the family butler. Hilarity ensues. This is no ordinary family; the Bullocks may be rich but the women of the family are also wild and rather eccentric. The supporting cast is superb: Eugene Pallette plays the long-suffering father; Alice Brady the flighty, clueless wife; Gail Patrick the ‘mean’ sister Cornelia; Jean Dixon the wise-cracking maid, and Mischa Auer, Carlo, Mrs. Bullock’s Italian protégé. The script is wonderful, too. Take this exchange between the maid and the newly arrived butler, Godfrey:

Godfrey; May I be frank?

Molly: Is that your name?

Godfrey: No, my name is Godfrey.

Molly: All right, be frank.

Or this brief conversation that introduces the audience to both Mr. Bullock and his wife:

Man: Take a look at that dizzy old gal with the goat.

Mr. Bullock: I’ve had to look at her for twenty years!

Man: I’m terribly sorry!

Mr. Bullock: How do you think I feel?

The sets are  over-the-top Hollywood. Take Mrs. Bullock’s bedroom, for example.

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So, so much satin! Of course, the costumes are also lush. There’s even more satin and gold lamé (at least in the colorized version).

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Best of all, there’s no vulgarity, no violence, and we get a happy ending. Frankly, I could use a lot more of that kind of movie in my life, so I’m going to continue looking to the past for my entertainment. What about you?