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Matthew Broderick on a classic screwball comedy

When we asked Broderick (currently starring on Broadway in ”Nice Work if You Can Get It”) to talk about his favorite film, he offered up several 1930s movies, including the Sinclair Lewis drama ”Dodsworth” and the James Cagney gangster flick ”Each Dawn I Die.” But we focused on his favorite screwball comedy: ”My Man Godfrey” (1936), starring William Powell as a mysterious vagrant who’s recruited by a dizzy New York heiress (Carole Lombard) to serve as her family’s butler.

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”My kids have grown up on [movies] done in a much more shorthand way. [If they were watching Godfrey] I would tell them to please, please be patient and don’t check your device. Just watch and you’ll get carried away by it. Just take some deep breaths and it’ll win you over.”

”Carole Lombard is incredibly gorgeous and absolutely hilarious. She’s from another planet. I don’t know how she’s so good…. She gets carried up the stairs by Godfrey and her head just bounces with her hair in a brilliantly funny way.”

”I read a story: While making the movie, Powell had some disagreement with the director about the character [of Godfrey] and they shared a bottle of whiskey in his dressing room. The next day, the director was terribly hungover, and when he got [to the set] there was no William Powell. Powell sent a telegram that said, ‘Last night we found Godfrey but we lost Powell. See you tomorrow.”’

”[Powell] always surprises me somehow. His silent walk up the stairs with his tray and a glass of juice…is just a perfect little piece of silent acting.”

”It’s one of the quintessential screwball comedies of the 1930s, which is a kind of comedy that just doesn’t really exist anymore.”

”I love the way [movies from the ’30s] look. There’s something about that period of filmmaking. Some people say it’s partly because the studios were actual people — you know, there was somebody in charge rather than a lot of nervous people trying to please everyone.”

”William Powell is very funny, very intelligent. He never looks like he’s being funny, but he really makes me laugh. He doesn’t look like he’s putting any effort into anything.”