May I be Frank?
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”.
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.
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).
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?