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My Man Godfrey (1936)

tomatometer

100

Average Rating: 8.3/10
Reviews Counted: 28
Fresh: 28 | Rotten: 0

A class satire in a class of its own, My Man Godfrey's screwball comedy is as sharp as the social commentary is biting.

100

Average Rating: 7.9/10
Critic Reviews: 7
Fresh: 7 | Rotten: 0

A class satire in a class of its own, My Man Godfrey's screwball comedy is as sharp as the social commentary is biting.

audience

90

liked it
Average Rating: 4.1/5
User Ratings: 7,313

My Rating

Movie Info

One of the landmark "screwball" comedies of the 1930s, My Man Godfrey offers the radiant Carole Lombard in her definitive performance as flighty young heiress Irene Bullock, who on a society scavenger hunt stumbles on Godfrey (William Powell), an erudite hobo residing in the city dump. Godfrey becomes the family's butler, much to the dismay of Irene's father Alexander (Eugene Pallette), who thinks his household is crazy enough without another apparent lunatic under his roof. Halfway through the

G,

Drama, Romance, Classics, Comedy

Eric Hatch, Morrie Ryskind

Sep 17, 1998

Universal Pictures

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All Critics (28) | Top Critics (7) | Fresh (28) | Rotten (0) | DVD (18)

My Man Godfrey emerges with that evasive quality that is not skillful playing, writing or direction, but something that mysteriously adds itself to these things, and makes a tip-top picture.

April 24, 2009 Full Review Source: TIME Magazine
TIME Magazine
Top Critic IconTop Critic

[A] screwball masterpiece.

February 6, 2009 Full Review Source: Village Voice
Village Voice
Top Critic IconTop Critic

God, but this film is beautiful.

February 6, 2009 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Gregory La Cava's improvisational style received its highest critical acclaim for this 1936 film, a marginally Marxist exercise in class confusion during the Depression.

February 6, 2009 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

William Powell and Carole Lombard are pleasantly teamed in this splendidly produced comedy.

October 18, 2008 Full Review Source: Variety
Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The film has lost some of its allure over the years, but it's still streets and streets ahead of the addled whimsy favoured by latter-day Hollywood.

February 9, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Hasn't lost an ounce of its thematic resonance even after all these decades.

June 10, 2013 Full Review Source: Antagony & Ecstasy
Antagony & Ecstasy

There's a charm to both Powell and Lombard, making the film transcend generations. It's a cute movie that has fun with levels of wealth in society and sibling rivalry.

April 18, 2012 Full Review Source: 7M Pictures
7M Pictures

A brilliantly executed screwball, full of both madcap humour and bitter satire.

February 6, 2009 Full Review Source: Film4
Film4

Director Gregory La Cava was a master of the sustained comedy.

September 24, 2007 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

Its whimsical winning nature still comes through.

March 10, 2006 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

One of the most enchanting and poignant screwball comedies of all time, La Cava's zany film reflects the zeitgeist of the Depression and is supremely acted by William Powell, Carol Lombard and the rest of the ensemble.

June 12, 2005 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com
EmanuelLevy.Com

The ultimate Depression-era satire of the idle rich and tribute to the noble poor. This popular theme was never more devastatingly realized than in this opening sequence…

November 17, 2003 Full Review Source: Decent Films Guide
Decent Films Guide

A silvery romp.

July 30, 2003 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Hugely popular in its day, this is witty romantic comedy with barbed social commentary.

March 10, 2003 Full Review Source: Austin Chronicle
Austin Chronicle

Scintillating screwball comedy. One of the best.

November 5, 2002
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

A Great Depression film so blackly off its rocker it seems in many ways to be of our time more than its own.

November 6, 2001 Full Review Source: Movieline
Movieline

A treasure.

August 28, 2001 Full Review Source: Filmcritic.com
Filmcritic.com

...clearly defines the screwball comedy...Powell and Lombard at their best and funniest. Yet...with a serious touch, juxtaposing the worlds of the haves and have-nots.

August 1, 2001
Movie Metropolis

Audience Reviews for My Man Godfrey

A witty political satire that will probably leave you smiling more than laughing out loud, especially when showing the eccentricities of the hilarious crazy family, and it is dominated by some wonderful, Oscar-nominated performances from Powell, Lombard and Brady.
July 4, 2014
blacksheepboy

Super Reviewer

A socialite falls for her butler who has a secret about his past.
What great satire. The way the upper classes are exposed as caddy and the way they treat the lower classes as playthings resonates even today when some people wonder at the plight of the poor: "If they don't have enough money, why don't they buy more of it?"
William Powell's performance is of the time, reserved and aloof but occasionally charming, and Carole Lombard nails the flighty Irene Bullock.
Overall, this is a film that has certainly stood the test of time and remains poignantly funny.
May 8, 2012
hunterjt13
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

Incredible cinema! This is why we love Carole Lombard, William Powell and screwball comedies.
April 10, 2012
flixsterman
Randy Tippy

Super Reviewer

My Man Godfrey is on of the most perfect and deciptively light hearted romatic comedies of all time. This apparently screwball confection is about the class system, poverty, the dignity of humanity and a true soul match between two people who complete each other. However, you can turn your brain off to those deeper themes and enjoy one of the most wittily written, superbly cast and beautifully shot pieces of black and white artistry from Hollywood's golden era.

It's about a homeless man being instantly enlisted on a whim and made into the butler for a dysfunctional rich family and rising to the occasion. Neither he nor the wacky family are what they first appear to be.

FIrst and foremost in this embarrasment of riches is the indelibly charismatic and intelligent peformances by Powell and Lombard - and their scintillating chemistry. Powell shows great depth with subtlety and perfect comic timing, and Lombard is beautiful, quirky, vulerable and you can't take your eyes off her. They play two interesting, well rounded and flawed people who we filmgoers want desperately to wind up together. Second is the rest of the crackerjack cast, every role cast to perfection. Then is the economical script and direction, where not a scene is longer or shorter than it needs to be, and is peformed with restrained honesty and precision.

The only reason I hold back the last half star to this film is that some aspects of the film have dated, particularly the rushed and pat happy ending, and the over stylized aspects of the production design. If you are someone who can't see through these details to enjoy old movies, I'm not sure this will win you over. However, the Criterion collection version is pristine and crisp, both for sound and picture.

This film could be made into a contemporary feature today, with the exacty same story, and has: Paul Mazursky's Down and Out in Beverly Hills, which is based on a French Jean Renoir film, but that film is more dark and sexual.

My Man Godfrey will grab most viewers from beginning to end and make you laugh and care about the characters. It's a gem.
December 7, 2011
Josh Morris

Super Reviewer

    1. Carlo: Money, money, money!
    – Submitted by Victoria P (2 years ago)
    1. Angelica Bullock: What happened to Carlo?
    2. Alexander Bullock: He had to leave suddenly.
    – Submitted by Scott K (2 years ago)
    1. Irene Bullock: Stand still, Godfrey. It'll all be over in a minute.
    – Submitted by Scott K (2 years ago)
    1. Alexander Bullock: Well, all you need to start an asylum is an empty room and the right kind of people.
    – Submitted by Scott K (2 years ago)
View all quotes (4)

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