Posted on Wednesday, May 13th, 2020 by Hoai-Tran Bui
(Welcome to The Quarantine Stream, a new series where the /Film team shares what they’ve been watching while social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.)
The Movie: My Man Godfrey
Where You Can Stream It: Amazon Prime
The Pitch: William Powell plays the titular Godfrey, a “forgotten man” living in a dump on the East River who is recruited by Fifth Avenue socialite Irene Bullock (Carole Lombard) for a scavenger hunt before he’s subsequently hired by the eccentric heiress to be the latest butler for her unruly family. But things quickly go awry thanks to Irene’s vengeful sister, Irene’s budding affections for Godfrey, and a family secret that Godfrey has been harboring.
Why It’s Essential Viewing: Classic screwball comedies can usually get away with a fun premise and the sparkling chemistry of their two sharp-tongued leads, and just that. My Man Godfrey certainly has that in spades — Powell and Lombard were briefly married a few years before the film, and their natural affection and antagonism shines through the screen. But what sets My Man Godfrey apart from its screwball counterparts is an unusually sharp social conscience. Gregory La Cava’s 1936 comedy deftly taps into Depression-related anxieties, while sneaking in some biting social satire about the frivolous upper class.