Film: My Man Godfrey

The rich girl Irene with her protege...er, butler

My Man Godfrey is a classic 1936 Screwball Comedy starring William Powell and Carole Lombard. The time is The Great Depression, and a number of men down on their luck are living in the city dump. By chance, a party of rich people, including Irene Bullock, show up to claim one of the "forgotten men" to win a scavenger hunt. She chooses Godfrey and wins the hunt, and afterward offers him a job as the family butler. Hilarity Ensues as he is confronted with a mad household of spoiled brats and Cloud Cuckoolanders. While Irene falls madly in love with Godfrey, the feeling is not mutual (at first).


This film provides examples of:

  • An Aesop: Don't judge a book by its cover.
  • Brutal Honesty: Godfrey to the Rich People at the Scavenger Hunt.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Irene and Mrs. Bullock.
    Irene: (looks out the window of Godfrey's club) Oh, it's a lovely view - the view of the bridge. Is it always there?
  • Clueless Chick Magnet: Without really trying or having much awareness of it, adorkable Godfrey gets both Bullock daughters and the maid to fall in love with him.
  • Credits-Brand Products: The opening credits are on neon signs.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: At the end of the film, Godfrey tells a humbled Cornelia that she ought to put her high spirits to better use.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Mr. Bullock. For Molly and Godfrey see Servile Snarker.
  • The Ditz: Mrs. Bullock is so dizzy she is unable to correctly recall the man her daughter announced her engagement too mere moments earlier. Irene herself is also a bit empty headed, though she has a much more forceful personality than her vague mother.
  • Dysfunctional Family: Where to begin?
    "Take a look at the dizzy old gal with the goat."
    "I've had to look at her for 20 years - that's MRS. Bullock!"
    "I'm terribly sorry!"
    "How do you think I feel?"
  • Fainting: Invoked by Irene to make Godfrey stay.
  • Hangover Sensitivity: Mrs. Bullock usually has one in the morning. She sees "pixies".
  • Have a Gay Old Time: Mrs. Bullock notes that Cornelia shattered a bunch of windows downtown because she was "very gay" last night.
    • Mr. Bullock asks Godfrey if he's noticed anything "queer" about him lately.
  • Heartbroken Badass: Godfrey. It's how Cornelia found him at the dump.
  • Heel-Face Turn: Cornelia at the end of the film.
  • Hideous Hangover Cure: "Pixie Remover," namely tomato juice and Worcestershire sauce.
  • Hidden Depths: Godfrey, who is more business savvy than he appears.
  • Idle Rich: All of the Bullocks except Mr. Bullock. The satirical bite of these Idle Rich going to a dump to find the "forgotten man" was strong in the Great Depression, when there were a lot of forgotten men.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: During a typical evening at home, Mr. Bullock takes a whole tray of martinis & asks Godfrey to repeat the order in 30 minutes.
  • The Jeeves: Godfrey, except for the pardonable sin of being American.
  • Last Minute Hookup: In fact, last minute marriage.
  • Looped Lyrics: Carlo singing "Ochi Tchorniye," but none of the other lyrics, so it's close to a Single Stanza Song. Bonus points to Mrs. Bullock for not knowing the name of the song.
  • Love Makes You Dumb: Irene exercises this trope, especially with the rather silly engagement ploy.
  • Mad Love: This sums up Irene's relationship to Godfrey.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Irene is one of the first in film history, possibly the Trope Maker.
  • Only Sane Man: Mr. Bullock and Godfrey.
  • Over-the-Shoulder Carry: The way Godfrey carries fainted Irene up the stairs.
  • Protagonist Title
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Godfrey mercilessly dissects Cornelia's character, telling her she is an overindulged Park Avenue brat. She is furious but also ashamed.
  • Rejection Affection: Irene can't stop hitting on Godfrey while he is constantly rejecting her advances.
  • Rich Bitch: Cornelia. She, like everybody else in the household, is improved by Godfrey.
  • Riches to Rags: Bullock goes broke due to a combination of bad investments and his family's spending ways. It's averted thanks to Godfrey.
  • Scavenger Hunt: This is how the Bullocks first meet Godfrey. (Scavenger hunts first became popular in the 1930s).
  • Secretly Wealthy: Godfrey Smith (aka Godfrey Park of the Boston Parks).
  • Servile Snarker: The maid Molly is very deadpan, especially to the cops. Godfrey is sharper-tongued, but blunted by the adoring straight woman that is Irene.
  • Sexy Soaked Shirt: Godfrey figures out that Irene is faking a fainting spell, so he puts her in a shower and turns the water on. The results are pretty fanservice-y. This also causes Irene to realize that Godfrey loves her.
  • Shipper on Deck: Tommy, Godfrey's friend, as well as the whole Bullock family for him and Irene.
  • Spoiled Sweet: Irene. While ditzy, she still is kind to Godfrey, which is why he agrees to go with her for the scavenger hunt, as opposed to her older Rich Bitch sister.
  • The Tramp: Godfrey. He started out rich, goes on to be a tramp, makes the money back and uses it to help the other tramps.
  • Turn the Other Cheek: Mr. Bullock - until he finds out he is broke, and throws Carlo out the window, something that Godfrey praises him for.
  • Water Wake-up: Irene gets this treatment by Godfrey.