Criterion New Releases: September 2018
Coming this September to the Criterion Collection is Olivier Assayas's long-unavailable coming-of-age masterpiece Cold Water, recently released theatrically for the first time in the US. It will join the prestigious catalogue with a new 4K restoration supervised by the director himself. Another addition will be Andrei Tarkovsky's epic Andrei Rublev, which will make its Blu-ray debut in an edition that includes both the director's preferred 185-minute cut and the extended cut that was suppressed by Soviet censors. And then there's A Raisin in the Sun, the classic film version of Lorraine Hansberry's groundbreaking play about a Chicago family's struggle against racism and class barriers starring Sidney Poitier and Ruby Dee. It too will appear in a new 4K restoration. Ingmar Bergman fans will be pleased to hear that Scenes from a Marriage will for the first time be getting the Blu-ray treatment. And then there's a true American classic from the Golden Age of Hollywood: My Man Godfrey, the uproarious Depression-era screwball comedy starring William Powell and Carole Lombard, will now be available on Blu-ray.
Godfrey is not my favorite William Powell film (I much prefer him sleuthing) not is it my favorite Carole Lombard effort (I think she's much better in To Be or Not To Be) but Powell and Lombard do dazzle in this definitive screwball comedy. Directed by Gregory La Cava (Stage Door) the necessary elements of the genre such as a man on the outs, a ridiculously rich women, and madcap adventures add up to a potent cocktail of romantic repartee and Depression-era social critique.
Irene (Lombard), an eccentric Manhattan socialite, wins a society-ball scavenger hunt after finding one of the "items" on the list, a "lost man" (Powell), at a dump. She gives the man she believes to be a down-and-out drifter work as the family butler, and of course she soon falls in love. Her attempts to both woo Godfrey and indoctrinate him in the dysfunctional ways of the household make for an unbeatable series of hijinks. Although this may sound like a standard recipe for the genre, it is La Cava's deft handling that helmed the picture to be the first film ever to garner Oscar nominations in all four acting categories. And the film still stands to this day as one of Hollywood's greatest commentaries on class and the social unrest of its time.
A true example of classic cinema at its best, My Man Godfrey is a must see, as well as a must have for classic cinema fans.