AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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My Man Godfrey
Director: Gregory La Cava (Dir)
Release Date:   6 Sep 1936
Duration (in mins):  94-95
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Cast: William Powell  (Godfrey [Parke])
  Carole Lombard  (Irene Bullock)
  Alice Brady  (Angelica Bullock)

Summary: When New York socialites Cornelia and Irene Bullock both go to the city dump to obtain a "forgotten man" for a scavenger hunt being conducted at the Waldorf-Ritz Hotel, they encounter down-and-out Godfrey Parke. Insulted by Cornelia's presumptuous offer of five dollars, the well-spoken Godfrey pushes her into an ashpile. He is charmed by her sister Irene, however, and agrees to be turned in as a "find." Irene wins the contest, but Godfrey is disgusted by the careless attitude of the wealthy crowd and deems it a pleasure to return to the dump. Smitten by Godfrey, however, Irene hires him as the family butler, despite the fact that Cornelia vows to make his life miserable. Their scatterbrained mother Angelica supports a resident protégé named Carlos, a fop who does gorilla imitations and eats everything in sight. Irene takes after her mother, and her father Alexander worries about his family's extravagance. When Irene falls in love with Godfrey and kisses him, he admonishes her, and she sulks. During a tea party thrown by Irene, one of the guests, Tommy Gray, recognizes Godfrey as an old college chum. In order to keep his past a secret, Tommy claims Godfrey was his valet and is married with five children. Irene is horrified by this revelation and, out of spite, suddenly announces her engagement to Charlie Van Rumple, a young heir whom she had rebuffed only a few moments before. Tommy and Godfrey meet privately for lunch, and Godfrey's background is revealed to be old Bostonian wealth. He tells Tommy he became a derelict by his own choosing after a bitter disappointment in love. Later Cornelia tries to set Godfrey up by planting her pearls under his bed and calling the police, but a search reveals nothing, and Alexander, suspicious of his daughter's motives, encourages the police to drop the matter. When Irene's engagement is broken, she and Cornelia go on a lengthy trip to Europe. Godfrey, meanwhile, re-visits the dump with Tommy, where he hits on a scheme to turn the forgotten men into working men. When Irene returns from Europe, she still longs for Godfrey and assumes a melodramatic depression. After a beleaguered Alexander announces he is broke, Godfrey surprises everyone by resigning and revealing that he had taken the pearls from his bed and used them as collateral for stocks he played on the market in Alexander's name, thereby saving the family fortune. He returns the pearls to Cornelia, who apologizes for treating him shabbily. Having learned something from each member of the family, Godfrey bids them farewell and returns to the city dump, which he has transformed into a nightclub that employs his fellow derelicts. Irene follows him and determinedly sets up housekeeping. Tommy, who is aware of Irene's intentions, sends the mayor into Godfrey's office in the nightclub, and much to the surprise of a dumbfounded Godfrey, he and Irene are married. 

Distribution Company: Universal Productions, Inc.
Production Company: Universal Productions, Inc.
Director: Gregory La Cava (Dir)
  Scott R. Beal (Asst dir)
  Fred Frank (Asst dir)
  Nate Slott (Asst dir)
Producer: Charles R. Rogers (Exec prod)
Writer: Morrie Ryskind (Scr)
  Eric Hatch (Scr)
  Robert Presnell (Contr wrt)
  Zoë Akins (Contr wrt)

Subject Major: Butlers
  Family relationships
Subject Minor: Drunkenness
  False accusations
  Scavenger hunts
  Snobs and snobbishness

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
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