AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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My Man Godfrey
Director: Gregory La Cava (Dir)
Release Date:   6 Sep 1936
Production Date:   15 Apr--27 May 1936; retakes early Jun 1936
Duration (in mins):   94-95
Duration (in reels):   10
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Cast:   William Powell (Godfrey [Parke])  
    Carole Lombard (Irene Bullock)  
    Alice Brady (Angelica Bullock)  
    Gail Patrick (Cornelia Bullock)  
    Jean Dixon (Molly)  
    Eugene Pallette (Alexander Bullock)  
    Alan Mowbray (Tommy Gray)  
    Mischa Auer (Carlo)  
    Pat Flaherty (Mike)  
    Robert Light (Faithful George)  
    Grady Sutton ([Charlie] Van Rumple)  
    Selmer Jackson (Guest)  
    Franklin Pangborn (Master of ceremonies)  
    Edward Gargan (Detective)  
    James Flavin (Second detective)  
    Robert Perry (Doorman/Hobo)  
    Grace Fields (Socialite)  
    Katherine Perry (Socialite)  
    Harley Wood (Socialite)  
    David Horsley (Socialite)  
    Philip Merrick (Socialite)  
    Ernie Adams (Forgotten man)  
    Phyllis Crane (Party guest)  
    Jack Chefe (Head waiter)  
    Eddie Fetherston (Process server)  
    Arthur Singley (Chauffeur)  
    Reginald Mason (Mayor)  
    Eddie Kane    
    Jane Wyman    
    Arthur Wanzer    

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. 

Production Company: Universal Productions, Inc.  
Production Text: A Gregory La Cava Production
Distribution 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)
Photography: Ted Tetzlaff (Photog)
Art Direction: Charles D. Hall (Art dir)
Film Editor: Ted Kent (Ed)
  Russell Schoengarth (Ed)
  Maurice Pivar (Supv film ed)
Costumes: Travis Banton (Miss Lombard's gowns)
  Brymer (Other wardrobe by)
Music: Charles Previn (Mus dir)
Sound: Joseph Lapis (Sd rec)
  Homer G. Tasker (Sd supv)
Special Effects: John P. Fulton (Spec eff)
Make Up: Loretta Francell (Hair)
  Hugh Roman (Makeup)
Production Misc: Maude Allen (Scr clerk)
Stand In: Chic Collins (Double for William Powell)
  Doc Dearborn (Stand-in for William Powell)
  Dixie Martin (Stand-in for Carole Lombard)
  Dolores Conrad (Stand-in for Alice Brady)
  Grace Moody (Stand-in for Gail Patrick)
  A. W. Newington (Stand-in for Eugene Pallette)
Country: United States

Source Text: Based on the novel My Man Godfrey by Eric Hatch (Boston, 1935).
Authors: Eric Hatch

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Universal Productions, Inc. 27/8/1936 dd/mm/yyyy LP6572

PCA NO: 2302
Physical Properties: b&w:
  Sd: Western Electric Noiseless Recording

 
Genre: Screwball comedy
 
Subjects (Major): Butlers
  Extravagance
  Family relationships
  Regeneration
  Romance
  Socialites
  Tramps
 
Subjects (Minor): Drunkenness
  Engagements
  False accusations
  Fops
  Gigolos
  Hotels
  Nightclubs
  Parentage
  Parties
  Pearls
  Police
  Recognition
  Scavenger hunts
  Sisters
  Snobs and snobbishness
  Stocks
  Wealth

Note: A news item in HR notes that this film was banned in Hungary. According to a news item in HR , My Man Godfrey was "the sensation of the week's business of the first run London theatres. The heavy throng congregating daily for the picture has been causing traffic jams in Leicester Square." My Man Godfrey was nominated for the 1936 Academy Awards in the following categories: Best Actor, William Powell; Best Actress, Carole Lombard; Best Supporting Actor, Mischa Auer; Best Supporting Actress, Alice Brady; Best Direction, Gregory La Cava; Best Screenplay, Eric Hatch and Morrie Ryskind. Modern sources note that La Cava agreed to work with Constance Bennett, the studio's first choice for "Irene," only if William Powell was borrowed from M-G-M for the male lead. Powell, however, stipulated in his contract that he would play "Godfrey" only if Carole Lombard played "Irene." At this time, Powell and Lombard were already divorced. Modern sources also note that Ronald Colman, among other actors, expressed interest in playing "Godfrey."
       Universal remade My Man Godfrey under the same title in 1957. That film was directed by Henry Koster and starred David Niven and June Allyson (see entry belolw). In 1985, Allan Carr created a Broadway stage production of My Man Godfrey

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Daily Variety   12 Jun 36   p. 3.
Film Daily   16 Jun 36   p. 24.
Hollywood Reporter   8 Jun 36   p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter   12 Jun 36   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   3 Oct 36   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   20 Jan 37   p. 6.
Motion Picture Herald   6 Jun 36   p. 43.
Motion Picture Herald   20 Jun 36   p. 67.
MPSI   1 Aug 36   p. 20.
New York Times   19 Sep 36   p. 18.
Variety   23 Sep 36   p. 16.

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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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