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.”
John Bailey Breaks Down a Tour de Force of Gothic Lighting
The veteran cinematographer takes a close look at the highly stylized and atmospheric lighting in one of the most pivotal scenes in pre-Code classic The Story of Temple Drake.
All About Mankiewicz
One of the most celebrated Hollywood writer-directors of his time, Joseph L. Mankiewicz offers a window into the way he sees his characters in this illuminating clip from an archival interview.
Charisma to Burn: Béatrice Dalle’s Incandescent Debut in Betty Blue
The young French actor didn’t require much direction for her first screen role. As the film’s director and cinematographer recall, she quickly proved herself to be a born star.
How Paweł Pawlikowski Reimagined His Parents’ Fiery Romance for the Big Screen
As the director explains to filmmaker Alejandro G. Iñárritu, the love story at the heart of the Oscar-nominated drama Cold War has its roots in his own family history.