…and the quest to see everything

Best. Opening Credits. Ever.

‘My purpose in coming here tonight was twofold. Firstly, I wanted to aid this young lady. Secondly, I was curious to see how a bunch of empty-headed nitwits conducted themselves.’

Burn. Gregory La Cava‘s My Man Godfrey takes satire over slapstick. The patriarch of the Bullock’s frustration with his family’s antics and lavish spending is delivered with sincerity. The titular dumpster hobo Godfrey’s (William Powell) mixed in with this craziness that always crosses the line, like Cordelia Bullock (Gail Patrick) trying to destroy whoever she doesn’t like. She especially finds Godfrey as a target, but not the same way we do – there’s eloquence in stinging the rich that makes us question his gruff demeanor. Cordelia, nonetheless, comments on the age difference between him and his love interest – her sister Irene (Carole Lombard). Often looking glamorous and elegant, like a blond Joan Crawford, Lombard kind of looks like a gangly woman-child in an expensive gown. It’s the curls. At least she is the reason this movie’s funny.

Cordelia picks Godfrey out of the dump near the Hudson river, she hides pearls under his bed accuses him of stealing, pearls go missing because he ends up stealing and hiding the pearls better than she can. He uses the pearls to turn the dump into a place that can accommodate both a night club and housing apartments, two institutions that won’t mix today. Godfrey, thus, invents gentrification avant la lettre, but unlike today’s version, he incorporates the poor into is urban vision by giving them work instead of simply turning them away.

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2 responses

  1. This movie is lovely, oddly I’m not a big fan of either of the leads. But the comedy is palpable but still subtle in a way that I can’t put my finger on.

    May 25, 2011 at 8:37 pm

    • The two leads never lasted past the 1930’s, although I’m not blaming Lombard for dying in a plane crash, of course.

      And if there’s a ‘comedy grounded on truth,’ it’s this movie. That’s where I think the appeal comes from.

      May 26, 2011 at 12:56 am

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