Rent My Man Godfrey (1936)

3.8 of 5 from 110 ratings
1h 30min
Rent My Man Godfrey Online DVD & Blu-ray Rental
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Synopsis:
Carole Lombard and William Powell dazzle in this definitive screwball comedy by Gregory La Cava - a potent cocktail of romantic repartee and social critique. Irene (Lombard), an eccentric, wealthy Manhattanite, wins a society-ball scavenger hunt after finding a "forgotten man" (Powell) - an apparent down-and-out drifter - at a dump. She gives him work as the family butler and soon falls head over heels for him. Her attempts to both woo Godfrey and indoctrinate him in the household's dysfunction make for a string of madcap high jinks that has never been bested.
Actors:
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Directors:
Writers:
Morrie Ryskind, Eric Hatch
Others:
Morris Ryskind
Studio:
GMVS Entertainment
Genres:
Classics, Comedy, Romance
BBFC:
Release Date:
08/12/2003
Run Time:
90 minutes
Languages:
English
DVD Regions:
Region 2
Formats:
Pal
Aspect Ratio:
Full Screen 1.37:1
Colour:
B & W
BBFC:
Release Date:
17/09/2018
Run Time:
93 minutes
Languages:
English LPCM Mono
Subtitles:
None
Formats:
Pal
Aspect Ratio:
Full Screen 1.33:1 / 4:3
Colour:
B & W
BLU-RAY Regions:
B
Bonus:
  • New interview with critic Nick Pinkerton on director Gregory La Cava
  • Outtakes
  • Lux Radio Theatre adaptation of the film from 1938
  • Newsreels depicting Great Depression class divides
  • An essay by critic Farran Smith Nehme

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Reviews (1) of My Man Godfrey

Classic Screwball - My Man Godfrey review by Steve Mason

Spoiler Alert
Updated 10/03/2021

My Man Godfrey captures the spirit of the great Frank Capra. A party of socialites are entertaining themselves with a scavenger hunt among the homeless of New York. Irene (crazy Carole Lombard) explains this 'is exactly like a treasure hunt, except in a treasure hunt you try to find something you want, and in a scavenger hunt you try to find something that nobody wants'. And so she attaches herself to 'forgotten man' Godfrey (William Powell) in perhaps the most cynical ever meet-cute in pictures.

Godfrey becomes the butler to the anarchic Bullock family. The father (Eugene Palette) earns big in the stock exchange but his dependents spend it even bigger. Mrs. Bullock (Alice Faye) is just hopelessly ditzy, a model for Irene whose featherbrain at least reveals a kind heart. Mrs. Bullock's protege/gigolo is Carlo (Mischa Auer in a brilliant comic performance) who is supposed to be writing an opera but is just freeloading. The dangerous sister is Cornelia (Gail Patrick), the sort of privileged, insulated American who may turn to political extremism. This is 1936.  

The butler survives the family, and inevitably saves them, teaching them humility and (by implication) the value of Roosevelt's new deal. As Godfrey, William Powell is sensational, both brilliantly hilarious, but with an underlying dignity which is never tarnished no matter how reduced his circumstances: 'The only difference between a derelict and a man is a job'.

My Man Godfrey is fabulously funny, and heartbreaking too, and miraculously manages to avoid sentimentality. But it is also a romantic comedy and (the recently divorced) Powell and Lombard are adorable as the very odd couple. This film was made by Universal, the house of horror, and is most untypical of their output. Showing how dominant the screwball comedy had become, and how adept it was at reflecting America back to itself.  

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