Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

My Man Godfrey (1936)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

My Man Godfrey (1936)

In director Gregory La Cava's landmark sophisticated screwball comedy, set during the Great Depression - a zany, humorous classic and biting satire about the idle rich in an improbable plot about a socialite's hiring of a hobo-bum to be the family's butler:

  • the set-up to the film: blonde, spoiled, dingbat socialite Irene Bullock (Carole Lombard) discovered a "forgotten man": Godfrey "Smith" Parke (William Powell), a hobo at the East River city dump during a charity scavenger hunt, so that she could win the competition and defeat her domineering older sister - brunette Cornelia Bullock (Gail Patrick); when he was presented in the lobby of the Waldorf-Astoria as her 'find' - Godfrey contemptuously addressed the snobbish crowd after Irene had won the game: "My purpose in coming here tonight was two-fold: firstly, I wanted to aid this young lady. Secondly, I was curious to see how a bunch of empty-headed nitwits conducted themselves. My curiosity is satisfied. I assure you it'll be a pleasure to go back to a society of really important people"
  • Irene subsequently hired him to be her family's butler (Irene to her mother Angelica: "He's gonna work for us"); he would be working in the home of the Bullocks, led by nutty, financially-worried Alexander (Eugene Pallette) and his ditzy, scatter-brained wife Angelica (Alice Brady)
Some Members of The Bullock Family
Alexander and Angelica
  • the famous scene of Angelica's do-nothing and pretentious protege Carlo (Mischa Auer) lamenting and moaning about financial ruin: ("Oh, Money, money, money! The Frankenstein Monster that destroys souls")
Carlo: "Oh, Money, money, money!"
Carlo's Gorilla Imitation
  • Carlo performed a gorilla imitation to cheer up Irene; he hunched over, ambling and loping around the living room, and jumping up and over the furniture and onto the window frame; Irene gave a phony fear reaction to his ape mimickry: ("He frightens me"), while Alexander joked: ("Why don't you stop imitating a gorilla and imitate a man?...Someday I'm going gorilla-hunting and I won't miss")
  • Godfrey was ultimately revealed, in fact, to be a blueblood (with a Harvard education) who had a run of romantic bad luck and had considered suicide - he was clearly a product of the Depression who had decided to join the down-and-outs at the dump because they had optimistic, down-to-earth values more clearly aligned with his than those of the upper-class
  • Cornelia attempted to frame Godfrey for theft, by planting her expensive pearl necklace under his mattress; when detectives arrived to search the bedroom, Cornelia suggested the obvious place: "Look under the mattress!" but when the pearls weren't found there, she exclaimed: "They must be there!...why I-I read that that's where people put things when they steal them" - she obviously incriminated and disgraced herself
  • after a sojourn of the Bullock sisters in Europe, Irene had become more hungry for affection from Godfrey; when he mentioned that he was considering leaving his job, Irene faked swooning to get his attention; Godfrey hauled the lovesick girl up on his shoulder, bemoaning the insane, anarchic Bullocks: "Oh, this is the craziest family"; he carried the limp rag-doll upstairs into her bedroom, dumped her on a bed, and then realized that she was faking (he saw her sit up in bed in a mirror's reflection); he tossed Irene under the cold water of a shower fully clothed ("Let that be a lesson to you"); she replied receptively: ("Oh, Godfrey, now I know you love me"); when he rejected her statement: ("I do not love you and you're getting me all wet"); Irene continued: ("You do or you wouldn't have lost your temper"); Irene was jubilant to her mother who appeared: ("Oh Mother! Godfrey loves me! He put me in the shower")
After Fainting, Godfrey Carried Irene Upstairs to Bedroom
Realizing That Irene Was Faking
Placing Her in Shower
Irene Reacting to Cold Shower
Irene: "Now I know you love me"
Godfrey Announcing His Resignation to Angelica
  • as a result of the embarrassing incident, Godfrey announced his definite resignation and departure from working for the wacky family, after he had attempted to set things straight for the Bullocks and teach the family a few lessons
  • before leaving, Godfrey delivered surprise news to the financially-destitute Bullock family that through financial ventures and investments of his own, he had saved them from ruin [Cornelia's still missing necklace, that she had unsuccessfully used to try and frame Godfrey as a thief, had been pawned and used by Godfrey as collateral, before being returned to her.]; he then described the lessons he had learned from the family: "I've been repaid in many ways. I learned patience from Mr. Bullock. I found Mrs. Bullock at all times, shall we say, amusing....(To Cornelia) You taught me the fallacy of false pride. You taught me humility....Miss Cornelia, there have been other spoiled children in the world. I happen to be one of them myself. You're a high-spirited girl. I can only hope that you use those high spirits in a more constructive way. And so, good-day"
  • in the final sequence, Godfrey was now running a luxurious and fashionable nightclub (employing homeless men), aptly named "The Dump" (at the site of the old dump). The love-sick Irene trailed after him, announced her intention to remain with him, and vowed her love: ("You're my responsibility and someone has to take care of you....You love me and you know it. You know, there's no sense in struggling against a thing when it's got you. It's got you and that's all there is to it. It's got you!"); she talked the befuddled Godfrey into instantly getting married in a civil ritual with a judge, and tried to be reassuring: ("It may get me into a lot of trouble, but, uh, I guess I've known your family long enough to take a chance") - and then she spoke the final lines of the film before the ceremony: ("Stand still, Godfrey, it'll all be over in a minute")

Hobo/"Forgotten Man" at City Dump With Irene Bullock

Godfrey's Speech In Lobby of Waldorf-Astoria

Godfrey as the Bullock Family's New Butler, With the Maid Molly (Jean Dixon)

Scheming Cornelia Suggesting that Detectives Look Under Godfrey's Mattress For Her Stolen Pearl Necklace

Departing Godfrey Saving the Members of the Bullock Family From Financial Ruin

Irene to Godfrey: "You love me and you know it"

Concluding Marriage Ceremony to a Befuddled Godfrey


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