Sunday, February 28, 2016

Learning to Be Cultured // My Man Godfrey

If you didn't read my introductory post for link up, last month my best friend, Ekaterina, and I decided to start a linkup focussing on culture.  The purpose of this is to learn more about culture, both our own and others, in a fun way.  This month we decided to watch a film from the criterion collection, review it, and talk a bit about what we learned from it.  We decided to watch the 1936 version of My Man Godfrey, starring William Powell and Carole Lombard.

My Man Godfrey, Gregory La Cava, 1936.    You can't tell from the poster, but this is about as crazy as a comedy gets!!:
A scatterbrained socialite hires a vagrant as a family butler...but there's more to Godfrey than meets the eye.

My Man Godfrey is the quintessential example of a classic comedy from Hollywood's Golden Age.  It has a touch of slapstick comedy.
I really loved how the movie opened with the names in lights, which reflected against the water.

Godfrey: The only sane person in the Bullock household, Godfrey is a homeless man Irene picked up out of the dump to be their butler. He's a surprisingly good one for coming directly off the streets... He also seems surprisingly well educated. 
Mr. and Mrs. Bullock: They are completely opposite.  Mr. Bullock is one of the most patient men in the world.  He tries to remind his family not to spend too much money, and he himself is trying not to become insane like the rest of his family.
Mrs. Bullock is..... well, she's definitely nutty and acts like a ditz.  She says the most nonsensical things, and she is always laughing at a situation she does not completely understand.
Irene Bullock: Irene is definitely the stereotypical dumb blond.  She is also perhaps the most clueless person in the whole movie, besides her mother, who she is very much like.  Her silliness gives the movie a comical note, and well....Irene seriously doesn't think, so the consequences are funny. :-)
There is also a scene where Irene mourns the fact that Godfrey does not love her, so she goes about the house dressing in black trying to act profound and tragic.
Cornelia Bullock: Think Cinderella's evil stepsisters, and then add crazy, and you've got Cornelia.
Carlos (Mrs. Bullocks protege): Carlos has three talents. 1) He can eat surprising amounts of food, 2) He does a weirdly accurate impersonation of a monkey, 3) He's a soon to be famous pianist because of his incredible musical talent.  The last one is debateable.

Carole Lombard and William Powell in My Man Godfrey | 23 Classic Hollywood GIFs That Are Better Than A Time Machine
I think William Powell must have enjoyed shooting this scene...
Then what happens next until the very end is hilarious! 

And quite a bit of intelligent humor, which I found particularly satisfying, considering how unusual it is in so much of the comedy of  today.  
I agree that the humor in this film was very satisfying and silly.  The humor definitely had a slapstick note to it, but it was also rather sophisticated.  A majority of the humor cam from the family when they did not know that they were being funny.  When the family's maid first speaks to Godfrey, she calls the family nutty, and as the movie progresses, one has to agree with her. 
I think that this film was kind of a social commentary in that it's humor slyly poked fun at society and some of its stereotypes.
I agree that the movie pokes fun and makes stereotypes of the rich.  This movie was also made during the Great Depression, and I think that is important to know because people were then going to the movies to be entertained and escape reality, so they wanted to watch something silly to laugh at.  I think that this movie (Godfrey) also showed people that there is more to life than just money and if you hang on long enough, then everything will be better.
My Man Godfrey: Eugene Pallette:
How would you rate this film?
Elizabeth: 4.5 stars because:  I thought this film was really funny in an intelligent way.  It wasn't pointless humor, because it showed things the way they were while poking fun at it. One thing I didn't like was that all of the ditzy, sly or stupid characters in the family were female. The only normal person was the dad.  I kind of wished that at least one of the women had been an admirable or at least relatable character.  Anyways, feminist rant over, other than that, I really enjoyed this movie

Ekaterina:  I would also rate this between 4 to 4.5 stars because the humor was really funny, the humor was more than as Elizabeth said "pointless", and the movie showed the money did not buy class.  I can't rate this movie 5 stars because it does not live up to Laurence of Arabia, for instance, but it was still really good.

Fun piece of trivia: Carole Lombard and William Powell, were actually married from 1931-1933, while the movie was made in 1936, 3 years after their divorce.  William Powell  brought up Carole Lombard for the role of Irene since the romance between Godfrey and Irene was like their romance between them in real life.
Highlight for snarky spoiler comment. This makes me wonder how long Godfrey and Irene's marriage lasted.

If you've joined in our link up, add the link to your post and we'll go check it out and add it to this post! We've already had one participant, you guys should go check out Ashley's review of Charade on her blog.  And now for next month's topic...
*insert drumroll*
fresh fruit market antigua guatemala miss it so much!:
An open air market in Guatemala... #coooool
This month's challenge is...
Make a dish from a different culture (preferably one you've never tried before) and blog about it.  Bonus points for picture and fun facts about that country's gastronomic culture. (-: 



  1. Replies
    1. You totally should! It's super funny. (-:

    2. You should watch it! Like Elizabeth said," it's super funny!" :-)

  2. I love My Man Godfrey! I need to rewatch this. :)

    1. If a person loves a movie, then a rewatch is always a good idea. :-)

  3. GAH I LOVE OLD MOVIES SO MUCH. There's just something about them, you know? It's like this special element that no other movies have. x) It's fabulous. "1) He can eat surprising amounts of food, 2) He does a weirdly accurate impersonation of a monkey, 3) He's a soon to be famous pianist because of his incredible musical talent." < I THINK THIS CHARACTER IS ACTUALLY ME. xD #sotrue

    Fabulous review!

    1. IKR?! Old movies FTW!!! I laughed when I read your comment about how Carlo was basically you, because it's kind of true about me. Especially to food part. XD Also, you can do a monkey impersonation?! This I must see. :P

    2. Old movies really are special. I don't know what makes them special. It could be the acting, directing, storylines, or maybe it's the fact that they were made in another era. Whatever that something about them is, I really are amazing.

      Haha! I think the true part of that one statement about Carlos for me is the food part. :-)

  4. Ooh, this does sound entirely good. XD I confess to probably having watched, um, like 2 black and white movies in my whole life?! hehe. (Oh and episodes of the Addam's Family because REASONS XD) but this sounds really funny and interesting. ;D Loved the review/discussion on it, you two! :)

    1. Hi Cait!
      What were the two black and white movies you watched? I haven't seen the Addams Family, even though I've played the theme song on the piano. :-)

      Yes, this was a very funny movie! :-)

  5. This movie sounds so funny!! I haven't seen many 30s movies, but this one is on my to-watch list! Also, that highlight for spoilers was like the best idea ever!!! I love when you two write together :D
    I'm not really a cooking person, so I will probably profess my love for refried beans and bean burritos :D (Gastronomic is a funny word)


Please share your thoughts with me! I LOVE to connect with my readers, and I promise I don't bite.

xoxo Lizzy

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