Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Variety Review of MY MAN GODFREY: Genesis of the Genus?

On Blogdanovich today, Peter Bogdonavich writes that Screwball as a genre got its name from a 1935 review of MY MAN GODFREY (full review and link to Variety post is below the clip).

Actually the brief Variety review just says she's a screwball character, but I don't have a reason to argue with the assertion that this ultimately defined the genre.  In younger days I might have gone in pursuit of "fact" or "truth" but this assertion seems as good to me as any other possibility.  Besides Bogdanovich is a fan of screwball, plus the guy kinda knows a thing or two about film, and so it feels like I should be deferentially collaborative.  At least until I have a good reason not to.

As a reward for skimming through the blah, blah, blah above, here's a fun clip:

MY MAN GODFREY | by Variety Staff | December 31, 1935 
William Powell and Carole Lombard are pleasantly teamed in this splendidly produced comedy.  Story is balmy, but not too much so, and lends itself to the sophisticated screen treatment of Eric Hatch's novel. 
Lombard has played screwball dames before, but none so screwy as this one. Her whole family, with the exception of the old man, seem to have been dropped on their respective heads when young. Into this punchy society tribe walks Powell, a former social light himself who had gone on the bum over a woman and is trying to become a man once more in butler's livery. He straightens out the family, as well as himself. 
Alice Brady, as the social mother in whom the family's psychopathic ward tendencies seemingly originate, does a bangup job with another tough part. Gail Patrick, as Lombard's sparring partner-sister, is excellent. Eugene Pallette, as the harassed father, and Mischa Auer, in a gigolo role, a beautiful piece of sustained comedy playing and writing, are both fine. 
1936: Nominations: Best Director, Actor (William Powell), Actress (Carole Lombard), Supp. Actor (Mischa Auer), Supp. Actress (Alice Brady), Screenplay

Earlier post on Screwball Study:  MY MAN GODFREY | 1936 | Then and Now