September 26th, 2008

carole lombard 05
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Everybody doesn't like something...



"...but nobody doesn't like Sara Lee!"

Perhaps some of you recall that advertising slogan, from the days when Sara Lee was a company famous for its coffee cakes and other baked goods, not a multinational conglomerate whose products ranged from toothpaste to pantyhose.

But getting back to the first half of that slogan, it's good to remember that some things that one might believe are beyond reproach aren't universally beloved. Movies from Hollywood's Golden Age, for instance.

A favorite classic film site of mine, "She Blogged By Night," brought home this point earlier in the week. Stacia, the blogger, hails from Manhattan...Kansas, that is, the college town home to Kansas State University. (It was thanks to "She Blogged By Night" that I learned of the online existence of the Kansas State Board of Review, subject of yesterday's entry.)

Anyway, Stacia's topic on Monday was "Classics You Hate"...and guess which movie she cited?



That's right -- "My Man Godfrey."

Now before some of you rush off to Kansas to protest such heresy, please note that Stacia has nothing personal against Carole Lombard. In fact, she has a link on her site to "Carole & Co.", for which I thank her. But she simply doesn't have any fondness for "Godfrey," and in her entry (http://www.shebloggedbynight.com/2008/09/monday-morning-question-classics-you.html), she explains why, even admitting "there must be something wrong with me":

" I see the vulgarity of the Bullocks in "My Man Godfrey" and I'm appalled and saddened. I see no humor in a kept man being ordered to act like a monkey just to cheer up a sickenly infantile 28-year-old woman. There is no humor in comparing the homeless to animals for sport. Every character in this film is owned, they're all bought and paid for and expected to perform by those who do the paying."

Moreover, she adds that "it didn't escape my notice that the good and the bad characters were almost completely divided by gender," with the female characters generally acting ridiculous and the male ones sane (save for the "protege" portrayed by Mischa Auer).

"Everyone else thinks this is the funniest, most intelligent comedy ever," Stacia wrote. "Maybe it is. Maybe I just don't think the medium is appropriate for the message."

Let's take up this topic and run with it...

* If you are a fan of "My Man Godfrey," how would you convince her she's missing something? Be constructive; be civil.

I think I might say that Lombard's character, Irene, acts "infantile" because she's been insulated from reality thanks to her money (do certain more recent heiresses come to mind?). Godfrey had been insulated, too, albeit in a different way, but the loss of his wealth changed him for the better -- and while Irene may not be smart, she does have humanity. Trouble is, she's never been taught how to channel it.

* Are there any Lombard films, or movies in general from the Golden Age, that everyone seems to like but you? (Those responding to Stacia's entry cited "Bringing Up Baby" and "Mr. Smith Goes To Washington.") And what's your hangup about them, to borrow a '60s phrase?
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