My Man Godfrey, an inspired spin on the screwball comedy from 1936, derives much of its enduring bite from the class critique at its core. Made at the height of Hollywood’s golden age, but taking the measure of stark economic disparities in a country then in the trough of the Great Depression, Gregory La Cava’s Oscar-nominated film follows a Manhattan aristocrat (Carole Lombard) and the dump-dwelling drifter (William Powell) she taps to serve as her family’s butler, chronicling the lavish household’s dysfunction through the eyes of the wearied new domestic. As critic Nick Pinkerton notes in the above clip, excerpted from a supplement on our new edition of the movie, the “violation of class boundaries,” epitomized in My Man Godfrey by the romance that ultimately blossoms between the main characters, was in fact a recurring theme for the undersung auteur. The filmmaker—whose other class-based comedies include Stage Door (1937) and She Married Her Boss (1935), and who himself came from modest means—“takes an enormous delight in how funny and strange it is that there are such things as rich people,” Pinkerton observes. “The exotic plumage of these bizarre creatures is incredibly droll and amusing to him.”
Liv Ullmann Recalls “Shattering” Moments on the Set of Shame
While working on Ingmar Bergman’s devastating antiwar film, the actress developed an emotionally intense chemistry with her costar Max von Sydow.
The Real-Life Rage That Fueled Lee Grant in In the Heat of the Night
In this excerpt from a new interview, the actor talks about how she channeled her political anger in the role of a distraught widow in Norman Jewison’s Oscar-winning crime drama.
Writing with the Body: Mikey and Nicky as an Actors’ Showcase
Elaine May populated her gangster-film masterpiece with acting heavyweights who could bring spontaneity to their roles. Critics Richard Brody and Carrie Rickey talk about her approach to performance in this clip.
How Hitchcock Pulled off a Shot for the Ages
Award-winning cinematographer John Bailey discusses the complications that Alfred Hitchcock faced trying to execute one of the most ambitious shots in his filmography.