114 My Man Godfrey

Discuss DVDs and Blu-rays released by Criterion and the films on them. If it's got a spine number, it's in here. Threads may contain spoilers.
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Martha
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114 My Man Godfrey

#1 Post by Martha » Sat Feb 12, 2005 9:14 pm

My Man Godfrey

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Carole Lombard and William Powell dazzle in this definitive screwball comedy, directed by Gregory La Cava—a potent cocktail of romantic repartee and Depression-era social critique. Irene (Lombard), an eccentric Manhattan socialite, wins a society-ball scavenger hunt after finding one of the "items" on the list, a "lost man" (Powell), at a dump. She gives the man she believes to be a down-and-out drifter work as the family butler, and soon falls head over heels in love. Her attempts to both woo Godfrey and indoctrinate him in the dysfunctional ways of the household make for an unbeatable series of madcap hijinks. La Cava's deft film was the first to garner Oscar nominations in all four acting categories, and it is one of Hollywood's greatest commentaries on class and the social unrest of its time.

SPECIAL FEATURES

• New high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
• New piece about the film with jazz and film critic Gary Giddins
• New discussion about director Gregory La Cava with critic Nick Pinkerton
• Outtakes
• Lux Radio Theatre adaptation of the film from 1938, starring actors William Powell, Carole Lombard, Gail Patrick, and Mischa Auer
• Newsreels from the thirties documenting the class divide during the Great Depression
• Trailer
• PLUS: An essay by critic Farran Smith Nehme

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Hrossa
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#2 Post by Hrossa » Mon Feb 14, 2005 3:28 pm

I'm just curious if anyone out there really wanted William Powell and Carole Lombard to get together at the end. Doesn't it seem pretty ridiculous and terribly unsatisfying emotionally?

(Yes, I'm posting in a few virgin Criterion threads as a show of support for the recent Reversion.)

O/T: By the way, are we in mourning? There's no tag line under the criterionforum.org header.

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Gregory
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#3 Post by Gregory » Mon Feb 14, 2005 4:03 pm

I remember not expecting it. Of course, that turn of events is not supposed to be taken seriously, I don't think. Like all the best screwball comedies, it's a rich satire of marriage and family politics, specifically how marriage is so obligatory in our society (and in our movies, and the season finales of TV programs, etc.). It's a "happy ending" that makes fun of happy endings. It also pokes a hole in the pomposity of William Powell's character, who had coolly been in control throughout the whole film.

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#4 Post by Napoleon » Tue Feb 15, 2005 1:36 pm

Aren't you supposed to expect Godfrey to 'redeem' Cornelia and end up with her? Throughout Irene is portrayed as a compulsive child, too immature for Godfrey. Cornelia on the other hand is shown (particular in the bar scene) to be an intellectual match for Godfrey.

Should anyone listen to the commentary, whatever you do, DO NOT play a drinking game that revolves around hearing the words 'screwball' and 'comedy'. You'll be dead from alcohol poisoning within 40 minutes.

Disclaimer: Yes, I know that this is a screwball comedy and it is nesseccary to mention that it is, I just think that Bob Gilpin overdoes it. A bit.

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Hrossa
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#5 Post by Hrossa » Tue Feb 15, 2005 2:38 pm

I think you are supposed to suspect that Godfrey will redeem Cornelia and end up with her. Especially after her contrition toward the end of the film. It might be the only movie I've seen where everything is quite obviously set up to end a certain way. You expect it, you want it, etc., but then he suddenly goes along with Irene who is obviously inferior to him emotionally, morally, psychologically... It's perhaps the screwiest of screwball comedies (sorry N. Wilson) for that very reason. While most of the other great screwballs at least stick to some convention in regard to concluding a romantic comedy, My Man Godfrey ends with the one pairing you've been encouraged to revile for the entire picture.

I think it rises above satire to the point of being pure nihilistic plot terrorism! It's wonderful!

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oldsheperd
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#6 Post by oldsheperd » Tue Feb 15, 2005 4:48 pm

I think Godfrey is pretty reviled at the end myself.

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Hrossa
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#7 Post by Hrossa » Tue Feb 15, 2005 5:32 pm

oldsheperd wrote:I think Godfrey is pretty reviled at the end myself.
I agree that's possible, but I don't think he's nearly the object of revulsion Irene has been for a good portion of the film. Could you elucidate a little more?

I think my reaction to Irene is tempered a little bit at the end. I mean, there's definitely hope for her character, but I'm left not really sure what to think. Maybe she could turn out all right. Maybe that's what Godfrey sees in her. Maybe I shouldn't read so much into this anit-formulaic, formulaic movie.

But I enjoy doing it. Regardless of whether that much thought was put into where the movie leaves the characters, I can't help but care about their prospects for the future.

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domino harvey
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#8 Post by domino harvey » Sat May 03, 2008 8:28 pm

I enjoyed the commentary on this one but I had to cringe when the commentator hinged a point on Powell's winning a Best Actor Oscar for the Great Ziegfield over his role in My Man Godfrey-- an amazing feat considering that Powell wasn't even nominated for an Oscar for the Great Ziegfield.

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#9 Post by bjeggert82 » Sun Jun 01, 2008 4:18 pm

Roger Ebert's Great Movies essay.

thebadsleepwell
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Re: 114 My Man Godfrey

#10 Post by thebadsleepwell » Tue Aug 30, 2011 12:16 pm

I finally caught this last night, as I combed through a backlog of TCM films on the DVR. I was constantly bowled over by how fresh it seemed. The film is quite the paradox as it was on one hand an obvious product of its depression era time but somehow felt new and current (from a comedic perspective and also thematically-the socio-economic issues are indeed relevant). I was also surprised at how it got me on an emotional level, even to the point of inspiring a small well up of tears when Godfrey reveals himself to the family and what he has done for them. I was surprised to learn Eugene Pallette didn’t receive an Oscar nomination as I loved him as the patriarch.

wllm995
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Re: 114 My Man Godfrey

#11 Post by wllm995 » Tue Aug 30, 2011 1:34 pm

Sorry - this one just doesn't work for me...

Give me a strong, intelligent female lead anytime ("The Lady Eve"...anyone?) over a vapid, emptyheaded one... :roll:

Powell; of course, is just superb! :-"

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knives
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Re: 114 My Man Godfrey

#12 Post by knives » Tue Aug 30, 2011 2:28 pm

But you have both in this film.

thebadsleepwell
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Re: 114 My Man Godfrey

#13 Post by thebadsleepwell » Tue Aug 30, 2011 4:25 pm

wllm995 wrote:...over a vapid, emptyheaded one...
I thought this at first. However the more I watched and the deeper the film progressed, there was always more than an inkling of "more than meets the eye". Although I do not think hers was the best female performance. That in my opinion goes to both Alice Bradey and Gail Patrick (who while not the lead, was not a vapid, empty headed anything)!

wllm995
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Re: 114 My Man Godfrey

#14 Post by wllm995 » Tue Aug 30, 2011 4:57 pm

Yes, Cornelia is plenty strong enough - but not particularly appealing. Irene is just an empty-headed mass of neuroses - not attractive at all.

I was entranced in my first viewing of MMG - many years ago. When I returned to this wonderful movie after many years; I was SO disappointed in the performance of Carole Lombard (a VERY intelligent and appealing actress) - she plays a dithering idiot! NO appeal in her portrayal of Irene at all - Godfrey would be SO much better off with Cornelia - or just about anyone else! A BIG disappointment in my second viewing... :(

"The Lady Eve" still ranks as my number one screwball comedy - Stany is superb!! \:D/

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Minkin
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Re: 114 My Man Godfrey

#15 Post by Minkin » Wed Dec 05, 2012 5:46 am


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domino harvey
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#16 Post by domino harvey » Fri Jun 15, 2018 4:02 pm

domino harvey wrote:
Sat May 03, 2008 8:28 pm
I enjoyed the commentary on this one but I had to cringe when the commentator hinged a point on Powell's winning a Best Actor Oscar for the Great Ziegfield over his role in My Man Godfrey-- an amazing feat considering that Powell wasn't even nominated for an Oscar for the Great Ziegfield.
Rather than just correct this, Criterion has dropped the entire commentary track from the rerelease. Is this the first time they've done that?

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The Fanciful Norwegian
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Re: 114 My Man Godfrey

#17 Post by The Fanciful Norwegian » Fri Jun 15, 2018 4:19 pm

Some LD titles (Cat People, Sansho the Bailiff, Ugetsu) shed their commentaries when they were upgraded to DVD and Blu, but as far as I can tell this is the first time Criterion's dropped a commentary without replacing it with another.

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FrauBlucher
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Re: 114 My Man Godfrey

#18 Post by FrauBlucher » Fri Jun 15, 2018 4:20 pm

Blu-ray upgrade Sept 18th


I noticed it says New high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray but Universal gave this a 4k restoration when they did the Marx Bros, One Eyed Jack and others. Is Criterion not using it?... Here.

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FrauBlucher
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Re: 114 My Man Godfrey

#19 Post by FrauBlucher » Wed Jul 04, 2018 1:56 pm

FrauBlucher wrote:
Fri Jun 15, 2018 4:20 pm
Blu-ray upgrade Sept 18th


I noticed it says New high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray but Universal gave this a 4k restoration when they did the Marx Bros, One Eyed Jack and others. Is Criterion not using it?... Here.
The discription changed. It now says... New 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray \:D/

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