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A bedraggled man becomes the butler of an eccentric household.
On the eve of their mother's charity scavenger hunt, which requires competitors to capture a useless animal, spoiled socialite sisters Irene and Cordelia Bullock compete to capture a goat. Irene follows the goat to the docks, where an apparently vagrant man surprises her. He covers her mouth to keep her from screaming, but when he lets her go, she calmly asks after her goat. Charmed by Irene and eager to avoid police detection, the man introduces himself as Godfrey, and helps her outsmart Cordelia by returning to the party with her as her "animal." Irene's flighty mother Angelica presides over the chaos at the contest headquarters, while Alexander, her gruff father, looks on in distaste. Upon seeing Godfrey, the crowd roars its approval and Irene is declared the winner. Flushed with her triumph over Cordelia, Irene follows Godfrey into the crowd and offers him a well-paying job as the family butler, intriguing him further by noting that his bearing reveals him to be a gentleman. The next morning, a now clean-shaven Godfrey enters the Bullock kitchen, where Molly, the jaded maid, warns him that no butler has lasted more than one day with the eccentric family. When she calls Irene a "stray-cat collector," Godfrey replies that some strays need a leg up. Just after noon, Angelica summons Godfrey, who treats her hangover-inspired hallucinations with empathy, earning her instant admiration. Irene then calls for Godfrey, and although she at first does not recognize him, she soon labels him her protégé. Godfrey then goes downstairs, and when a suspicious Alexander attempts to fire him, Irene defends Godfrey ferociously, finally bursting into tears to force her father to relent. Within weeks, Molly has fallen in love with Godfrey and the household is running more smoothly than ever thanks to the new butler. Only the jealous Cordelia treats Godfrey with disdain. One day, while Angelica's freeloading musical protégé Vincent plays the piano, Alexander announces to his family that they must curtail their expenses. At Cordelia's suggestion that they fire Godfrey, Irene breaks down in fake spasms and insists that Godfrey attend to her. After everyone leaves, she kisses him, but he walks away. Irene follows him to his room, where she explains that she has no suitors because men are afraid of her, but when Godfrey unceremoniously throws her out, she runs off crying. Soon after, Angelica throws a party for her delinquent teen girls' charity, at which Irene pointedly snubs Godfrey. Attending the party is jet-setter Francesca Gray, who attracts Cordelia's attention when she recognizes Godfrey, an old friend. Heeding Godfrey's hints, Francesca pretends that is a former employee, and fabricates a story that he has five children. Jealous of Godfrey's "wife and family," Irene spitefully announces her engagement to a nearsighted boy named Hubert. The next day, Godfrey and Francesca meet at a restaurant, where he explains that, as a titled Austrian, he served at the Austrian Embassy in England, returned to his native country to fight in World War II, and then left to work on a freighter. Hoping to live in America, he then jumped overboard and swam to shore, where he met Irene, and now is living as an illegal alien. Cordelia spots them and interrupts their discussion to crudely accuse Godfrey of having an affair with Francesca, but after he calls her a brat with no taste, she stalks away. Hours later at the Bullock home, Molly reveals to Irene that she, too, has been ejected from Godfrey's room, and the two commiserate. Godfrey returns home drunk, and while he attempts to carry out his duties without breaking the china, Cordelia hides a diamond bracelet under his bed and then claims it has been stolen. Police Lieutenant O'Connor arrives and, at Cordelia's insistence, searches Godfrey's room but finds nothing. When Alexander sees Cordelia react with shock, he quietly pays off the policeman and then informs his daughter that the uninsured bracelet is now lost forever. That night, Alexander calls Godfrey in to apologize for Cordelia, and after the butler confesses his alien status and offers to assist the family in any way, Alexander reveals that he is about to lose his business. Godfrey then visits Francesca, who is engaged to millionaire James Elliott, and offers his land as collateral toward a loan for Alexander. The next night at dinner, Alexander learns that Elliott has suddenly granted him a business loan, but before he can thank Godfrey, the butler announces that he is quitting. He recites to each family member what he or she has taught him: Angelica, generosity; Alexander, patience; Cordelia, the foolishness of arrogance. When he then returns her bracelet to her, Cordelia admits that she hid it and thanks him sincerely. Godfrey announces he is leaving for Europe in the morning, and inspired by his strength of character, Alexander evicts Vincent. Irene packs to accompany Godfrey, and although he admires her desire to help and love him, he confesses his alien status and asks her to let him go. The next morning, the new butler's dourness depresses the family, and later the police visit with the news that Godfrey has turned himself in and is being deported. Overhearing them state that the only way he can stay is to marry an American, Irene races to the docks, attracting the attention of a traffic cop along the way. At the dock, as the boat pulls away, Godfrey shouts from the deck that though he loves Irene, he does not want to marry her only out of necessity, and promises to return. The policeman, however, takes pity on Irene and escorts her to a tugboat that meets up with Godfrey's boat. Soon after, the boat's captain visits Godfrey's cabin to announce that he must marry the girl that he has shamed, and although Godfrey is annoyed with Irene for lying, he cannot resist kissing her when she steps into the room.
Cast & Crew
|MPAA Ratings:||Premiere Info:||New York opening: 11 Oct 1957; Los Angeles opening: 18 Oct 1957|
|Release Date:||1957||Production Date:||
|Color/B&W:||Color||Distributions Co:||Universal Pictures Co., Inc.|
|Sound:||Mono||Production Co:||Universal-International Pictures Co., Inc.|
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User Ratings & Review
A Huge Mistake
I chose this film on Watch TCM and while disappointed it was not the brilliant original I thought I should give it a chance. Big mistake!Can I give it no...
One overlooked aspect is the hotness of Martha Hyer. She was at or near the height of her career as an ice blond, and she is simply stunning in the outfits...
Graham Thomas 2015-10-19
Why bother? Go to the brilliant original.