This is my contribution to the CMBA Blogathon: Film Passion 101. I'll be doing one of my photo reviews of the wonderful comedy, MY MAN GODFREY.
Like many of my readers and a few of my fellow CMBA members, I developed my passion for classic cinema through my mothers love of them. When I was a little girl on most evenings and on weekends I would find my mother curled up in a quiet room in front of the television, watching classic movies. Seeing her laugh and get so much joy, I started sitting beside her, listening to her go on and on about the stars of a particular film, or a certain genre that she really enjoyed. Her favorite being comedies and of course mysteries. She loved anything with William Powell and Myrna Loy then all things Charlie Chan. Of course I can't leave out my dad because to this day you'll usually find him watching old Westerns when he's not watching football. He loves anything with Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, John Wayne or Walter Brennan.
I thought about reviewing one of the Thin Man films but my mother would kill me if I said one snarky or rude thing about them, being that they are her absolute favorites. (She's barely gotten over my ripping The Women to shreds a couple of years ago!)
After I screen grabbed MY MAN GODFREY last night I called my mom to let her know the topic and boy was that a hysterical conversation that I just have to share. My mother is silly and for someone that doesn't mince words about her likes or dislikes when it comes to classic stars she was on a roll and all over the place. She reminded me a lot of Carole's ditzy character in the film. Here is just a sample of her little tangent last night.
First let me just say that she was not happy about my film choice. I had no idea that she had such a strong dislike for Carole and the film even though she loves William Powell.
In the early 50s my mother would let me walk to the cinema with my granny. She loved spending the day at the theater and that is where I first got a glimpse at movies since we didn't have a television at home.
My mother on My Man Godfrey which quickly went off the rails to other things on her mind.
It was too crazy... They are all looney...I think Powell bored himself with that movie.... It was too busy. Something you see once but you don't want to watch again. I love William Powell but I want to punch him for being in a film with that flake Carole Lombard for being a flake. I think I hate Carole Lombard. Do you have a Chester Morris film to give me a break from Carole? She did not make any sense. I dont like that she made me crazy! Loretta Young had a funny little face but she was pretty! Do I have to talk about Joan Crawford now, that witch? Bette Davis was in some well written movies...She was in great movies with George Brent. Your father hates Bette Davis but I can stand her....I adore George Brent and Chester Morris. Why aren't you writing about them? I thought you were writing about what I like. If you insist on writing about My Man Godfrey at least mention that I love William Powell very much! If you love me as much as you say you do, you can write about Charlie Chan sometime. That would make me very happy...You should have called me before you picked your movie. Did you not know that I don't care for Carole? Why wouldn't you know that? Why are you laughing when I'm trying to be serious? Do you want to talk to your dad now so he can tell you how much he hates Bette Davis and Joan Crawford?
(I was laughing so hard at one point that I'm sure I missed a lot of what she said. My mother cracks me up and I love her dearly. I'm also very grateful that she shared her passion for classic movies with me. ) Now, on to the review!
This is where sanity resides.
This homeless chap is certain that prosperity is just around one of those corners but he needs a map to it. If it's lost under all of those piles of trash the prospects of finding it aren't looking good. Another thing that isn't looking so good is Powell's unshaven face but he's homeless or acting homeless. I'm hoping things will become clear as long as Carole stays out of the way.
The cavalry has arrived in the shape of a short, annoying disco ball.
Cornelia: Hey, how would ya like to make 5 bucks? All you need to do is get in the car without getting it dirty, let me parade you around in front of my rich friends then toss you back out into the cold while I eat caviar and laugh about how embarrassed and desperate you must be.
Godfrey: How would you like to get tossed into an ash pile which will cause your sour face to pout and distort before you prance off and whine about your tacky silk dress getting ruined before you've had a chance to show it off?
Cornelia: What was the question again? I'm standing here trying not to let my thick Alabama accent show through since I'm Manhattan high society.
Irene: That was my sister Cornelia that you just ashed up. What's going on sailor? Is this the dock where I pick up a goat and something homeless? My father has the asthmatics but the goat doesn't have to be homeless but well fed. Wait, who are you and what did you do to get on this trolley? Want to get in the car with me? I think I'm supposed to take you somewhere to beat my sister at a game of jax.
Godfrey: Are you the smart sister? Shouldn't you have a chaperone?
Irene: This place could use a housekeeper. Are you homeless and forgotten? Wait, a man! I need you to be a man that got dropped, forgotten, led around but look at my dress. I love that it's shiny and all of this smoke and trash really does make it look expensive.
Godfrey: I'll go with you as long as you try to stop talking and allow me to find you some help.
Irene: There's no help for this place. It's such a shame that your trolley dropped you off here.
Godfrey: Are you on Absinthe?
The father of those two messes is getting sauced while his wife slings goat hair on everybody. High society isn't all that fun if ya ask me. At least the dump had a raging bonfire where you can roast s'mores and tell ghost stories.
I thought these people were told they needed to find a Bela Lugosi look alike but that gent is just mother Bullock's protege, Carlo. He looks like an idiot and I hope that goat sheds everywhere then chews her sleeves off. That's what she gets for having the nerve to sew a fur muff into her sleeve. What do you do with it when your hands are warm or its time to eat soup?
Just look at it! I think it's making her hands cramp up or she's just having a fit because she spent 2 hours with a goat and didn't win anything due to her daughter Irene's talking skills.
Pay attention to me before I scream, cry and claw my face. I brought my homeless goat and this chaperone who keeps telling me I need to sleep something off. Can you announce over a loud speaker that Cornelia ruined her dress?
YAY! I won a forgotten man who I'm going to vote in as the next president right after dessert. The shinier the fabric the more successful you'll be. That's why they let me go out and pick out our next president. Hey, mister! Why are you letting that monkey ring a bell? It's not going to work since monkeys are opposed to thumbs.
OMG! Look at her other sleeve. It's straight out of the Scarlet O'Hara catalog of fashion.
This is the look of someone who just realized she stunk up her car for nothing. Well, I guess it wasn't all for nothing. She now knows how to get to the city dump where they keep the prosperity maps.
Godfrey's first stop before the White House is to wait on and be at the beck and call of the Bullocks in Manhattan. Surely they were all just drunk and over joyed at shaming the homeless last night and this will be a normal day.
His first assignment is to poison Mama Bullock then once she's out of the way the two brats should get in line, stop acting like aliens and find some normal clothes. I hope this all goes as planned. I love murder mysteries and bad fashion.
This should be easy. If the poison doesn't work he can strangle her with her servant's cord or smother her with the 50 lbs of fur she sleeps in. Who sleeps in fur? She deserves to be hung over and I hope the pixies she's seeing in her haze keep whispering that PETA has her on their hit list.
I think I'll let her live. Her life seems so miserable and being this crazy while being followed around by Lugosi Lite is a fate worse than death.
She doesn't recognize Godfrey now that he's cleaned up. Now go back downstairs, Godfrey and unlock the front door for PETA.
At first glance I thought that was a slaughtered lamb. It's just Irene wearing her swaddling clothes. Hopefully they have straps that attach to the mattress.
She doesn't recognize Godfrey either. I'm so jealous of these rich people's bed clothes. Not the actual bed coats because they're ridiculous. I'm jealous that they can afford yards and yards of such expensive fabric or llama, whatever that is. Of course Irene is so clever she could have whipped it up from the goat that was wandering around last night. There very well could be a skinned goat downstairs in the pantry.
Irene: Will you be my protege, Godfrey? I need one because mother has Carlo.
Godfrey: What would I be doing as your protege?
Irene: Nothing really! We just collect men then give them stupid titles to impress our fancy friends. Carlo eats a lot then attempts to play the piano.
Godfrey: Is Carlo that guy that looks like an anemic Bela Lugosi? I think his accent is fake and he's actually from Yonkers but don't tell your mother.
Wait, Godfrey! Before you go could you undo these swaddling straps?
For your own safety and the neighborhoods, I better not.
See ya in church, fancy pants! Pray that it doesn't rain in here because this bed coat really stinks and weighs a ton when it gets wet or tired. I was tired but now I'm really happy because I have a protege and a tray of food that I might nibble on just as a taste tester or something funny that I read in the Library of Congress. WEEEEE! I'm not even mad that you won't untie me, Godfrey. You're shell, swell, shelled like a butler.
Fatty Warbucks is ready to wrestle. He actually thinks Godfrey is sneaking out after a night with one of his daughters. There's not enough booze in the world for that to have happened.
Cornelia won't even let Godfrey through her door. She probably peels her face off at night to sleep. I hear that's what aliens do. Consider yourself lucky, Godfrey.
I thought this man was there from the asylum with a really large bus but he's just there to serve papers for all of the damage the Bullock's girls caused the night before. Rich people problems!
The maid is amazed that Godfrey has lasted an hour. So far it's been easy. Wait until they stand upright and start moving around. Of course I don't know who's going to show Irene how to use the stairs, a hair brush and a fainting couch.
Cornelia seems to be in a good mood but I'm sure she's up to something. Shes back in 40 yards of silk. Or what she calls her casual, day wear.
This is her trying to look sexy but I can't help but notice her lack of boobs. Or low boobs. I'm sorry, Gail Patrick but look into proper undergarments which I know they had in the early 30s. What is going on?
Godfrey goes along with her silly games. Such a good sport but I'm sure he's just cleaning her shoe in order to not stare at her unfortunate boob situation.
I think we're fixing to see a cat fight in fancy fabrics. There's a first time for everything! This movie really does has something for everyone but don't tell my mother.
Carlo has the vapors over the Bullock's money troubles which he compares to Frankenstein. Wrong monster, buddy! Everybody is nuts. I hope Carlo has to move to the dump and eat day old donuts.
Cornelia: You're in love with Godfrey. Wait! How did you get downstairs on your own? Who helped you down here? Why are you dressed in proper undergarments? I'm smarter than you and look at me.
Irene: Are we going to fight cats or not? That's what the audience wants. Father's mad about the horse in the library which I won't take the blame for. I didn't wake up in riding clothes so it couldn't have been me although we can't blame a horse for liking reading books or wandering around the other animals on the Upper West Side. Let's go in and ask him if he stopped by the Farmer's Market and ate carrots on his way here.
Cornelia: Please go sit down somewhere!
Carlo is still upset and worried that he'll have to return his Lugosi cape and scarf to the costume shop. In the meantime it's already time for more cocktails. Just what this family needs.
Irene has the sads because Godfrey is a grown up who won't play her stupid games. (I'm guessing this was the point in the movie where my mother screamed, pulled her hair, cursed Carole out before shutting her down by changing the channel.)
I just don't understand why she's still single.
Snap out of it, Carole! It's not like this is real life and William Powell married you only to divorce you two years later or anything.
Cornelia: This is your fault for making the rule that she can be unstrapped and led downstairs for cocktail hour.
Alexander: She'll settle down and the word salad will stop once she starts hyperventilating.
Your horse is eating word salad in the library so stop making it sound like he's mine or your problem is having me downstairs where Carlo is from Yonkers but I can't tell mom. Now go get Godfrey so we can get married and parchezi with the Astors. This dress isn't shiny enough to make me feel smart like last night. Why can't we have fun at the dump anymore? This family is weird.
Carlo drew the short straw so it's his turn to entertain Irene.
Who requested the booze tower delivery? That protege gig is not for me. I'm nobodies monkey!
I hope we go broke so I don't have to support any of you fools anymore.
Monkey on dog crime!
Oh, Godfrey! This is going to cost you dearly even though you didn't see it coming or were afraid of getting punched if you resisted. (I'm not sure but I think he could sue for sexual harassment although who would want to go into court and admit that he knows these people or voluntarily went to their house?)
Godfrey: Have you seen Irene? Someone has sent her flowers.
Mrs. Bullock: Is this a joke? Have you met Irene?
Irene seems to have gone off somewhere and put herself in a trance. She's unable to talk though so you won't see me bitching about it.
Irene has transformed into Madge Bellamy in White Zombie.
Godfrey runs into a friend from Harvard who is just as confused as we are that he would work for this family. If his degree is in Psychiatry this would all make a bit more sense.
We have a Harvard educated butler? Our friends are going to be so jealous. Irene's bad decisions are paying off in spades. Now where did I put my muff sleeved dress? I want to play cards in it.
Godfrey's friend has gone too far with a made up story that Godfrey is married with five kids. This is the part where Bela Lugosi would try to throw Madge over the cliff to put her out of her misery.
Because it's Irene, who's never seen a rational thought she was fond of, she immediately announces that she's engaged.
Here's your lucky groom. It must feel like Christmas, Easter, Hanukkah and his birthday all wrapped up in an emerald bow.
I think you're swell, kitten but I've got a bad case of the plague and a severe llama allergy so I don't think this is gonna work.
I don't think I can do this. Isn't this where you write me a large check to go away?
Mr. Bullock: What is wrong with Irene now?
Mrs. Bullock: She's in love with Godfrey but he's married with five kids.
Mr. Bullock: Clever fella! Why didn't I think of that story when we met?
I think I know where Vivien Leigh got her inspiration for her part in A Streetcar Named Desire. What a drama queen! I'm starting to understand what my mother was talking about. (I'm guessing Clark Gable never saw this film.)
Godfrey offers the financially strapped Alex some good advice. Sadly he left out that divorce is always an option and new identities aren't that difficult to obtain either.
Godfrey meets up with his old friend to let him know he wasn't actually kidnapped by the Bullock's or out to murder any of them which is awful news.
He sees good in everyone which tugs at my heartstrings then I remember how strange they all are and how irritated I am at Gregory La Cava for making me turn on Carole. I may have to call my mother and apologize.
Broom Hilda is hiding at the bar and channeling Myrna Loy so she can find out what Godfrey is really up to. If she finds out I do hope she'll let the rest of us know.
I don't really think she's an alien but she's possibly the devil with a thing for fur and Garbo eyebrows. Godfrey isn't giving away any information today but she has driven him to drink. (I wonder how many men's tombstones say "Cornelia drove me to drink before I drove off of a cliff!"?)
I think Irene is getting ready to gorge on an entire vase of roses. Maybe then she'll get some attention but most likely just a torn esophagus from the thorns.
Irene: I love Godfrey and this coat with these buttons. I will sit here stroking the sleeve then eat more roses before I dance in this coat once you get the buttons sewn back on. It's a pretty coat like Godfrey and the love we have. We're going to be very happy at the dump watching the trolleys as they carry apples and shiny trophies across town.
Molly Maid: Aren't you engaged to someone else though? I'm willing to forgive you for eating the roses because I'm also in love with Godfrey but I won't allow you to chew off buttons or continue to drive me crazy. You need to stop talking now Irene.
Godfrey comes back sauced. (This is my favorite part of the movie. Powell really shines here.) He reminds me of Charlie Chaplin in some of his bits if only Chaplin had eaten and entire box of X-Lax and had to focus with Carole Lombard around.
Cornelia is on the case and sneaks off to plan something. If it doesn't involve a stabbing or blackmail I'll be surprised.
Irene is still upset and she refuses to eat. Guessing she's still full on those roses as she eyeballs the arrangement.
Cornelia has called the police over her missing pearls. Look at the idiot, Carlo! I would blame him first.
Because lost pearls were the crime of the century in Manhattan during 1936, the entire precinct shows up to get to the bottom of it.
Cornelia is certain, Godfrey is behind the theft as they set out to search his room where he's trying to sleep one off. Of course Cornelia hid her pearls under his mattress then shape shifted into an iguana that ate the skinned goat that never got let out of the pantry. Well, that last part didn't really happen but it would have been exciting. Especially if the real Bela Lugosi had shown up to cheer her on then drug her off into the night.
Surprise! The pearls are no where to be found. I bet Irene found them and used them to sabotage her mattress straps.
Cornelia: I would punch Godfrey if I weren't so weak and frail from lack of nutrition.
Without saying a word, Powell could bring the laughs.
The caper goes unsolved. Crime 1, Solved Cases by the Manhattan PD, 0. Look at Irene in the background. She looks like she's going to have another freak out over no apparent reason whatsoever. That's her M.O. I think the upper class would just label her sensitive though then write another check to cover the damage once she's done.
Cornelia: Stop being weird and sensitive, Irene!
Irene: These stairs remind me of a horizon that shines out of the love Godfrey has for me and shows me from over there where he's sleeping. But I know he's thinking about these stairs too. This makes me sad and feeling like I need to fling my arms around at the same time.
Cornelia: This might seem strange but are you on Absinthe?
We're back at the dump where sanity resides. Just stay put, Godfrey! If you go back to that house of horrors, I just know Irene will be dead within the hour from some freak accident.
Irene: I wish I lived at the dump. Godfrey would notice me and propose to me there. That place is so magical and where we first fell in love. Parcheesi, then he'll be the president. Is it fashionable to wear a crown of flora and fauna at the White House? Who's hungry for tulips on point toast?
Irene: Isn't married life fun, Godfrey? The way you do dishes like a real busboy and ignore me. I know you can't actually see me because I'm invisible like Topper but I'm wearing a floral dress today just for you and ravishing hats. Hats and flying clotheslines that twinkle. I'm so happy!
Godfrey: I'm not actually married, Irene and I don't have any kids which is the stupidest thing I can tell you being that you're crazy and all. And I don't mean crazy in the fun, life of the party way either. I wish you were invisible that way I could ignore the odd ways you contort your face when you are in full meltdown mode.
Irene: So you are crazy in love with me too? I knew it!
Irene: This plate is round, clean and beautiful like your head, Godfrey. Full of thoughts, that's what it is. Precious and it sits in my hand like a dove. We are doves, Godfrey...Silly love doves. Oh, we're so happy aren't we?
Godfrey: Yes, this is more happiness than any man deserves.
Cornelia finds herself on the We All Love Godfrey bandwagon so she tries to lure him into meeting her around the corner.
Which causes Irene to faint. Luckily Godfrey is there to witness her doing what she always does. Overreact while wearing strange clothes.
Or she was attacked by a rabid rooster. These clothes are confusing.
She gets taught a lesson by being thrown in the shower. Or he was just making sure the rooster was dead. It's hard to tell with Irene. But trying to figure her out is making my head hurt.
Carlo is still eating and trying to master the piano. It's awful and he's awful. I obviously can't afford a protege but if you ask me they're highly over rated and quite a nuisance.
Pops tosses Carlo out a window which had to have gotten the biggest cheers by the audience of 1936. I'm certainly relieved!
Mother is furious. Who's going to entertain Irene now and stand around creeping everyone out?
Cornelia is trying out extra shiny since it worked so well for Irene but Godfrey just has one thing on his mind and that is to get the heck out of there before Irene builds him a shrine out of wax and spare goat parts.
I hate that she's going to cry and ruin that gorgeous dress. (I think it was the costume dept that was on Absinthe to be honest. What in the world is she wearing?) Some things are just too shiny.
Everyone has the sads over Godfrey leaving. Have they learned anything? Probably not but at least they aren't poor and having to move to the dump thanks to Godfrey using Cornelia's pearls to keep them out of the poor house.
I can understand why Molly is crying. She lost the only normal person she's seen in years.
I bet the costume dept at Universal had a good laugh when they talked Carole into wearing this caped pantsuit all girted up with a belt.
All of Godfrey's forgotten men now have a job at his new nightclub. The Dump. Very clever but now that Irene has arrived, I expect a giant anvil to crash down and reign confetti all over them before they burst into flames.
Like it or not, I think your bride to be is here. She's as pretty as a parade float and crazier than the Mad Hatter. I'll be running along before she mistakes me for a forgotten man.
Irene: I love our little home and the beautiful flowers you bought for me although I've already had dinner. The only complaint I have though is the giant fire and trash has disappeared. You saw how I glowed and looked so pretty that first night at the dump. Wait, the cab took me to the dump but yet I'm here in your living room. Is this a game? I do love games. Goats, boats, no there are boats in the harbor that brought me to the dump. Can I sit down?
Son of a ...!
Surprise! Irene not only remembered to bring groceries and a ric of firewood, she also managed to con the Mayor into performing your nuptials. It's obviously too late now but somebody ruined her by never telling her no when she was a child.
I now pronounce you the unluckiest man on earth. Now institutionalize your bride before she accidentally burns your swell, new nightclub to the ground.
Thanks so much for joining me for my snarky photo review of this wonderful film. I really do love the movie and of course, Carole Lombard. Although I do agree a bit with my mother when she says that it's just too much. I also forgot to mention that as a kid my favorite films were with Cary Grant and every once in awhile my mother would watch some of the older films and silents which made me realize that I loved Ramon Novarro and I was mesmerized by his presence on screen. He was perfect in every way to me. Also, I adore Giant and it's one of maybe two films that I watch every year when it re-airs on TCM. Elizabeth was never more beautiful than she was in that picture. I love everything about the film.
I hope you'll all read the rest of the submissions by our very talented members of the Classic Movie Blog Association. I'm behind myself but I can't wait to read everyone's entries. The full list can be found HERE.
Lastly, before I go I want to thank all of you for being so patient with me during my absence from blogging these past few weeks. I'll be in Atlanta next week and I've got a few surprises in store when I return so stay tuned.
All the best!