The Contagious Dynamism of Carole Lombard in My Man Godfrey

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Last January 16 marked the 75th anniversary of Carole Lombard’s passing. This luminous actress tragically lost her life at the young age of 33 in a plane crash. To honour her memory, my friends Crystal from In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood and Laura from Phyllis Loves Classic Movies are hosting the Carole Lombard: The Profane Angel Blogathon. The event started on January 16 and is coming at its end today. I still haven’t seen a bunch of Carole Lombard’s films (six, I think), but just to see one was enough for me to appreciate her. So, I obviously couldn’t miss the occasion. My choice for the blogathon is My Man Godfrey, a 1936 screwball directed by Gregory LaCava and also starring William Powell (Carole Lombard’s first husband before Clark Gable). Carole Lombard received her first and, unfortunately, only Oscar nomination for her dynamic performance in this picture. It was also nominated for Best Director (LaCava), Best Actor (Powell), Best Supporting Actor (Mischa Auer), Best Supporting Actress (Alice Brady) and Best Screenplay (Eric Hatch and Morrie Ryskind). Interestingly, My Man Godfrey was the first film to be nominated in all the four acting categories (Wikipedia). I personally think all the cast deserved a nomination!

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My Man Godfrey presents a clash of societies during the Great Depression. It all starts when Irene (Lombard) and her sister Cornelia (Gail Patrick) Bullock detrain in a dump to find a “forgotten man” for a scavenger hunt. Cornelia sees one, Godfrey (Powell) and offers him 5$ to be her “forgotten man”. Annoyed by the idea, he asks her to leave. While he advances towards her, she falls in a pile of ashes. She leaves, bitter and angry. Irene, who is a much likeable character, stays, and Godfrey suggests to be her forgotten man to beat Cornelia at the contest. After Irene’s team win thanks to Godfrey and after he meets her family, she gives him their address as they need a new butler. So, the next morning, Godfrey arrives at their place to be hired for the job. He soon realizes that the Bullock is far from being an ordinary family (except maybe for the father played by Eugene Pallette), but he turns out to have a pretty good endurance. He, however, has to face Cornelia’s shenanigans against him and soon realizes that Irene is deeply in love with him an who had decided to make him her “protégé”.

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There are so many things happening in My Man Godfrey. The moments of calm are rare, so, if you haven’t seen it, I can assure you, you won’t be bored.

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It’s not without any reason that I personally like to call Carole Lombard “the queen of comedy” and My Man Godfrey is the proof that she was. I mean, she could play drama well too, but I believe she would mostly be remembered for her perfect comic timing. She and William Powell weren’t married anymore at the time they made the movie together (they divorced in 1933), but interestingly, it’s William Powell that suggested Carole for the part. IMDB informs us that it’s because their real life relationship was similar to Irene and Godfrey’s one. Miriam Hopkins and Constance Bennett were among the choices for the part of Irene, but to Powell’s eyes, Carole was the perfect one for the part. And he was right! She’s hilarious from the beginning until the end.

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What I’ve always liked about Carole Lombard is the when you see pictures of her, “staged pictures”, she can look very serious and dramatic, but when you see My Man Godfrey or Nothing Sacred, you realize that you have been fooled and that she is, in reality, a real clown. Although, she doesn’t look like a clown, but like a very distinguished lady, who could play comedy.

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In My Man Godfrey, Carole Lombard is… motivating. Seriously, I couldn’t pick a better world. Her energy is contagious and makes you want to be like her, even if she’s a little crazy. As we would say in French “elle fait la comédie” (“she plays the comedy”) and becomes tragic to fool people around her or to show her deception about something. But, as we know, she’s kind of faking it, so it remains hilarious. Irene Bullock makes me think a little of Susan Vance (Katharine Hepburn) in Bringing Up Baby, a lady who will never be ready to give up her man hunt!

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Carole makes a good team work with her fellow actors. Her chemistry with Powell is unbelievable and that might be one of the best things about the film. Her opposition with Cornelia (Gail Patrick) is perfect. They are like real sisters if you see what I mean. 😉

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Something I also like about Carole Lombard is the fact that she has some of the best lines. I think that along with Network’s ” I am mad as hell and I am not going to take it anymore”, “Godfrey loves me! He put me in the shower!” is my favourite movie line. It doesn’t make much sense, plus Carole’s facial expression when she says it is priceless. So, it remains a pretty hilarious moment.

Here are some other Carol Lombard’s quotes from My Man Godfrey that are quite memorable and reflects quite well the atmosphere of the film:

1- Godfrey: Do you think you could follow an intelligent conversation for a minute?

Irene: I’ll try.

2- Irene: You have a wonderful sense of humor. I wish I had a sense of humor, but I can never think of the right thing to say until everybody’s gone home.

3- Godfrey: These flowers just came for you, miss. Where shall I put them?

Irene: What difference does it make where one puts flowers when one’s heart is breaking?

Godfrey: Yes, miss. Shall I put them on the piano?

4- Irene: Life is but an empty bubble. (That’s deep haha.)

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As we were honouring Carole Lombard in this blogathon, I mostly decided to focus on her for my article, but, of course, there will be many other things to discuss. I’ll leave you with that fun movie bloopers video for your own entertainment. Enjoy! 🙂

 

A big thanks to Laura and Crystal for hosting this event! You can read the other entries by click on this picture:

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Carole Lombard left us too soon, but she’ll be in our hearts forever ❤ RIP beautiful angel.

See you!

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Seriously, isn’t that the cutest face ever?

Top of the World: Remembering David Bowie with 15 Favourite Songs

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Already one year ago, on January 10, 2016, a musical legend, David Bowie passed away and left his fans in deep sorrow. He was an icon and a real source of inspiration. This sad event is one that we aren’t completely ready to accept and that seemed to have happened too suddenly. Unexpected deaths like this one are the most painful.

However, I’m strongly convinced that Bowie’s memory will never stop being celebrated. Today, in his honour, I’m back with a top 15 of my favourite Bowie’s songs (already another top? Yes!) Plus, two days ago it was his birthday so that makes it a double occasion. There are moments like this when I allow myself to put movies aside and focus on a different cultural subject. (Yes, David Bowie did play in some films, but that’s another story).

This list is very subjective as these are my personal favourites. I ask you to please respect my choices. If a song you like isn’t part of the top, it’s not because I don’t like it! It’s just not in my top 15.

I love Bowie, but I’m really not an expert. To tell you the sad truth, I discovered most of his songs after his death. (You know, stuff like that always happens). I think I knew 6 of them before. However, that doesn’t mean he wasn’t a favourite before his death, and I was one of those who couldn’t believe it. I’m telling you all this because this top mostly contains Bowie’s famous songs, which are the one I know the most. I’m not too familiar with his more obscure songs.

Well, enjoy the top now!

15. Changes (1971)

Seriously, how can we forget this refrain?

14. Let’s Dance (1983)

A perfect song to dance indeed.

13. Under Pressure (1982)

Davie Bowie and Freddy Mercury = priceless

12. Dancing in the Streets ( David Bowie and Mick Jagger’s version: 1985)

This song was originally written by  William Stevenson, Ivy Jo Hunter et Marvin Gaye and contains several different versions. Bowie/Jaggers’s one deserves credits for its video clip only.

11. The Man Who Sold the World (1970)

A “mysterious” song, that’s why I like it.

10. Modern Love (1983)

I know it sounds strange said like that, but I’ve always loved the musicality of this song

9. Rebel Rebel (1974)

Just for that lyric: “Hot tramp, I love you so! “

8. Suffragette City (1972)

Another unforgettable David Bowie’s song

7. Ziggy Stardust (1972)

Because I like the creativity of this song and Bowie’s very sexy voice in it.

(Seriously, his legs are amazing. And this live version is my favourite one)

6. The Jean Genie (1973)

This song has “swag”.

5. Golden Years (1975)

This proves that David was able to perform different styles of music and did them all well.

4. Starman (1972)

The first Bowie’s song I discovered. Used to be my #1 once, but it still has a special place in my heart.

3. Heroes (1977)

A powerful song and Bowie’s voice: OH MY GOD. The emotion.

2. Space Oddity (1969)

Bowie’s most iconic song. Always makes me think of my favourite Quebecker movie, C.R.A.Z.Y (Jean-Marc Vallée) in which the main character is a fan of Bowie and listens to this song in an iconic scene.

The song was originally released in 1969, but my favourite version is the 1972’s re-release, also the most well-known version.

C.R.Z.Y’s scene, in case you are curious.

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  1. China Girl (1977)

Strangely, I used not to like this song very much. But now I love it and… it’s my favourite one. Once again, David Bowie’s voice is amazing and full of emotion, and a song that mentions Marlon Brando’s name is always a winner for me. 😉

That was difficult and I’m still not a 100 % sure of my order of preference. There are some I just love equally.

Anyway, I hope you like these ones too! Please don’t hesitate to share with me what are YOUR favourite David Bowie’s songs.

I watched Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars yesterday and discovered a bunch of other amazing songs in it, but as I’ve heard most of them only once (except those in the top) and because this article was already edited I will leave it as it is now. But a big shout out to this film and its songs!

David Bowie: the man is gone, but the legend will live forever. RIP

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Top of the World: 10 Spanish Speaking Movies

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This past semester at university I had a Contemporary Spanish Cinema course. It was optional, but I took it for my own curiosity as, I have to admit, I don’t think I had seen any Spanish movies before. Here I mean Spanish from Spain. Some names were familiar, such as Almodóvar, but I still didn’t really know what to expect and if I would like it or not. Well, I did. The teacher was interesting and I loved almost all the movies we watched! The course is over now, but in good memory of it I’ve decided to do a…. top list! However, here I won’t only include Spanish movies from Spain, but Spanish speaking movies in general. So, some South American movies will be included on this list (actually, I think there’s only two) and movies produced by Spain, but not Spanish speaking won’t be included (here I can think of The Others with Nicole Kidman. We watched it in class, it’s very good, but not a word of Spanish is spoken in it).

Before I start the top, here are some new, and not so new warnings:

As I’ve just discovered the world of Spanish movies, I haven’t seen them all! So it’s no use saying “you should have put this film on your list.” If I haven’t seen it, I just haven’t, so I can’t include it. Among all the Spanish films I saw, I think that maybe 4 or 5 are not included in the list, so it’s not that much as you can see. And those are not like the “obvious” Spanish films that everybody should see. But of course, if you are curious to know if I have seen some particular film that might be among the 5 that are not on the list, you surely can ask! 🙂

I don’t say that any of these films are better than another one. This is a very subjective list. These are my personal favourites. Please respect my choices.

My course was about contemporary Spanish Cinema, meaning that the list doesn’t include Spanish movies from the 40s or the 50s for example. The oldest one is a 1980’s movie. However, if you know some good “old” Spanish films I should watch, please don’t hesitate to recommend them!

I think it would be important to mention that I did see all these films in class, but most of my viewings were related to the course, except for one.

All the Almodóvar’s films I saw are included in this list.

Ok, here we go!

10. La Mala Educación (Bad Education) – Pedro Almodóvar, 2004

I chose this film for my final essay of Spanish Contemporary Cinema and I got an…. A! 😀 Look what the teacher said about my text: “This was an excellent paper, with an outstanding engagement with both historical context and literature on the subject. Great work! Only as a minor comment, the paper, is 1000 words larger than the word count asked for, be sure to double check these things (I appreciate the effort but usually its better to try and not overdo too much). At any rate, this paper shows an excellent engagement with course topics and it was very insightful and complete assignment.”  Ok, I write too much, but hey! I got an A you know! 😉

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9. Flores de otro mundo (Flowers From Another World) – Icíar Bollaín, 1999

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8. Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (Mujeres al bored de un ataque de nervios)– Pedro Almodóvar, 1988

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7. La piel que habito (The Skin I Live in) – Pedro Almodóvar, 2011

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6. XXY – Lucía Puenzo, 2007

A very interesting and touching Argentinian movie about the complex subject of intersexuality. I actually saw this one in a different class.

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5. Todo sobre mi madre (All About My Mother) – Pedro Almodóvar, 1999

Definitely my favourite Almodóvar’s film so far, and the first I’ve seen.

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4. El laberinto del fauno (Pan’s Labyrinth) – Guillermo del Toro, 2006

Ok, I think everybody knows this one. I loved it, but I actually thought she would spend more time in the labyrinth!

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3. Pa Negre (Black Bread) – Augustí Villaronga, 2010

Another great film about Spanish Civil War, still with the mean guy from Pan’s Labyrinth. Here I cheat a little as the film is not in Spanish, but in Catalan.

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2. Y Tu Mama También (And your Mother Too) – Alfonso Cuarón, 2001

Another pretty well-known film. I watched it because of Gael García Bernal and I was not disappointed. Amazingly shot. A Mexican movie. The only one I watched that was not related to the course (or any other course if I think of XXY)

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1. También la lluvia (Even the Rain) – Icíar Bollaín, 2010

The film that made me discover Gael García Bernal. I didn’t know what to expect from this film, but it’s just amazing. The story is breathtaking and the actors are excellent. Not to be missed.

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Here it is. I know there’s much more I have to see such as Almodovar’s Talk to Her or Diarios de motocicleta with Bernal, but these films gave me a good preview of how great Spanish cinema is. If you are like me five months ago and haven’t seen any Spanish films, I hope this list will be useful to you!

It was good to be back! See you soon! 🙂

And Happy New Year too!