Wednesday, January 31, 2007

DVD note/Book note: My Man Godfrey

I just got through watching My Man Godfrey (1936) with William Powell and Carole Lombard, for the second time this winter. (It's one of those movies with enough going on that you can miss some rich details the first go-round.) I went looking for information about the movie after I watched it the first time - but found that most of the reviews gave away too much information. So... I'm not going to repeat that transgression here. Suffice it to say that it usually gets listed as a screwball comedy, but it's rather more than that. That isn't to say it doesn't have its screwball moments (lots of them) or that Lombard's character isn't one of the ditziest females ever to grace a screen. It is to say that it's a movie you can laugh at - with your kids, even - but that slides a few ideas about right and wrong into the mix, and takes jabs at the spoiled 'sophisticates' of its day. This is from a Hollywood that still knew how to laugh at itself as well as the world around it.

My copy is on a DVD I don't see listed for sale online (it's one of those clearance-priced four-movie-pack specials, selected out of a larger collection, I think), so I've linked to one that supposedly has both the colorized version and the black and white. (I always choose the original black and white, given a chance on old movies. But to each his own on that.) I understand there was a David Niven 'remake' in the 1950s, with an altered plotline. No thanks. Powell is the perfect Godfrey.

Add the novel the movie was based on to your treasure hunting list. It seems to be scarce enough to have sent some copies into the several hundred dollar range. The author is Eric Hatch. If you find a hardback first edition with a dust jacket, well, now you're talking four figures, probably, depending on condition. At first glance at the markets, I'm guessing at this point that the true first edition was published 1935 by Little, Brown, and Company of Boston (which is funny, given the skewering the Eastern upper crust crowd gets in the movie), with a Grosset & Dunlap edition out later the same year.

Update: The Common Room lists other fun movies.


Anonymous said...

The only copyrighted copy (both black & white and colorized can be purchased at

Kathryn Judson said...

Anonymous, I don't usually allow commercial comments through - and I'm not sure what you're saying about "the only copyrighted copy" (I'm guessing the copyright is on the colorized version?), plus the version you have on your website seems to be the same one to which I linked at Barnes & Noble, which means you're poaching, to some degree...

Having said that, I wanted to note that I am in awe of the technology and expertise that goes into colorizing old films. (The technology is beyond my understanding. The expertise is evident.) I prefer the black and white versions, when I can get my hands on them, but I concede that there's a great deal of skill and artistry that goes into the colorized versions. And since Legend Films is a colorizer and not just a retail outlet, I'll let your comment stand.

But next time, why don't you just say something like - 'Hey, we did the colorized version, for anyone who is interested.'

I'm always glad to give credit where it's due.

Kathryn Judson said...

Anonymous, In case we've misunderstood one another, my copy is strictly black and white.