Nominated for 6 Academy Awards, Gregory La Cava's 1936 screwball comedy is pure magic. My Man Godfrey stars William Powell as a homeless man who, thanks to Irene Bullock (Carole Lombard), stumbles his way into a job as a butler in the Bullock's luxurious household. Both Powell and Lombard were nominated for Oscars in their respective leading categories. Mischua Auer, playing one of the family's proteges, and Alice Brady, playing Irene's clueless mother, were also nominated for Oscars, although in the supporting category.
William Powell, who I enjoyed immensely in Manhattan Melodrama, is pitch-perfect in his portrayal of a man shaped by his past, and Lombard matches him every step of the way as the starry-eyed socialite. Powell and Lombard were actually married for a couple of years, and although they were divorced by the time this film rolled around, their chemistry is very much alive, and the effect is intoxicating. They both play their characters with such authenticity that the age difference virtually flies out the window, and all we care about is seeing these two good, decent people get what they want out of life.
Funny, even hysterical at times, but also quite moving, My Man Godfrey is a template for mixing comedy and pathos, both a foreshadower of the genre's future, such as Billy Wilder's The Apartment, and a tribute to the roots of the screwball comedy, as in Charlie Chaplin's masterful The Gold Rush. My Man Godfrey is a timeless film that can't be missed, and considering that it was released during the Great Depression, the current economic downturn only makes its themes more relevant.
Do yourself a favor and rent this one if you haven't experienced it yet. For those of you who have seen it, please chime in below with your reactions. Below, I have embedded the best excuse for a trailer I could find.