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.”
Donald Richie Uncovers the Traces of a Lost Japan
In collaboration with director Lucille Carra, the renowned writer brought his impressionistic travelogue The Inland Sea—an unusual choice for a film adaptation—to the big screen.
A Palette That Sizzles On-Screen
Filmmaker Darnell Martin and writer Nelson George discuss how vividly Do the Right Thing captures the heat of a Brooklyn summer and the diverse skin tones of its cast of color.
A Genius of French Cinema Delivers a Career-Defining Performance
Raimu is at his subtle best in one of the most moving scenes in The Baker’s Wife, a moment in which the actor channels the collective despair of France’s working class.