My Man Godfrey Is the Pick of the Week

I cut the cord many years ago. For the most part, I haven’t missed cable at all. I don’t watch sports or any live events really. I’m happy to wait for whatever movie or TV show I want to watch comes to one streaming service or another. The one thing I do miss is Turner Classic Movies. They show all sorts of great movies, many of which would not have been on my radar otherwise. They put together interesting line-ups featuring particular directors or actors, or any other number of themes. Their hosts are informative and interesting. It was always fun to just turn to that channel and see what was coming on. I can watch pretty much any movie they play through various streaming services but there is something neat about watching an old movie on TCM.

I discovered all sorts of great films through that channel, one of which was The Thin Man. I’d read the Dashiell Hammett novel it’s based upon so when I saw it was showing on TCM all those years ago I tuned it in even though I didn’t know anything about the film. I loved it and discovered the many charms of its two stars, Myrna Loy and William Powell.

Sometime later, I watched (also on TCM) My Man Godfrey. It is an absolute delight. It stars Carole Lombard as a rich socialite who finds William Powell living at a dump on the East River. She takes him home as she’s playing a screwy rich person’s version of a scavenger hunt where one of the things she is looking for is a “forgotten man.” She winds up hiring him as her butler (partially because she find him fascinating, but mostly because it absolutely annoys the rest of her family). Hilarity (and social commentary) ensues. The commentary doesn’t hold up all that well (though its condemnation of class is certainly still relevant today) but it remains quite funny and utterly charming.

The film has been in the public domain for ages and so there are all sorts of copies already out there in various formats, but most of them are pretty terrible quality wise. I am absolutely thrilled to see that Criterion is working their usual magic to both clean it up and present it with lots of extras to give a better understanding of the film and its place in cinematic history.

Also out this week that looks interesting:

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom: I’ll argue until my dying breath that the original Jurassic Park is an absolute classic. The sequels, not so much. The recent reboot Jurassic World was pretty dumb and mostly forgettable but it had its popcorn pleasures, chief among them Chris Pratt. This sequel looks even dumber – there’s not only dangerous killer dinosaurs but an active volcano to contend with! – but I’ll still give it a watch when I need some mindless entertainment.

Supergirl: The Complete Third Season: Kara Danvers continues to learn how to balance her personal life and the life of her super alter ego battling bad guys bent on destroying the world. The big bad this season is Reign, a forgotten super villain from Krypton. This season is a bit of a mess, but there are enough strong episodes to recommend it. I’ll have my full review up soon.

Siberia: Keanu Reeves stars as a diamond merchant who gets into some serious trouble in Russia.

The X-Files: Season 11: Mulder and Scully are back battling mysteries of the unknown. I only just now realized this season existed. I knew they did the 10th season event a couple of years ago (though I only watched a few episodes) so I guess I have even more to catch up on.

Lethal Weapon: The Complete Second Season: I’m pretty skeptical that a weekly television series based on the Richard Donner films could work, but now that it has made it through its second season I might have to give it a try.

Fahrenheit 451: This HBO series based on the classic Ray Bradbury novel updates the plot to modern times (it’s all e-books now, don’t ya know?) and stars Michael B. Jordan and Michael Shannon. I was pretty psyched about it when I first heard about this adaptation but it seems to have come and gone without much excitement from anyone.

Horrors of Malformed Men (Arrow Video): Japanese film from the late ’60s is about a medical student who gets trapped in an asylum then escapes only to find himself framed for the murder of a woman. He then takes the identity of a recently deceased man who looks exactly like himself, runs away to an island where he discovers his alter ego was creating an ideal community by transforming normal humans into hideous freaks. That sounds amazing!

The Looming Tower: Jeff Daniels, Alec Baldwin, Peter Sarsgaard, and Michael Stuhlbarg star in this drama about how the rivalry between the FBI and CIA may have led to the attacks on September 11.

The Pyjama Girl Case (Arrow Video): Italian giallo based on the real-life mutilation and murder of an unknown woman in Australia. I’ll have a review up in a few days.

Mat Brewster

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