Movie Typography: MY MAN GODFREY

My Man Godfrey (1936) has always been one of my all-time favorite films. The Godfrey of the title is a derelict (William Powell) who, after meeting wealthy and eccentric Irene Bullock (Carole Lombard), is hired as a butler in the zany Bullock household. It’s a really fun hour and a half, and if you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend that you do.

Godfrey‘s opening credits are very distinctive and very well-integrated with the storyline. The names (and titles, if necessary) of the cast and crew are designed like neon signs on buildings near the riverfront. The camera pans right, showing all the names in turn, ending on a painting of the city dump, where Godfrey, along with other “forgotten men,” makes his home. The painting dissolves into the first shot of the film.

Opening credit sequence – MY MAN GODFREY

I’ve included the screencaps below in case anyone wants to get a closer look.

The Godfrey typeface’s geometrical forms and low bars are very typical of the art deco type commonly used in the 1920s and 1930s. After some research, I think the closest you can get today is probably Semplicita Pro by CanadaType. You can “test drive” it here.

Movie Typography: ESPIONAGE AGENT

Joel McCrea is TCM”s Star of the Month for May 2012 and I admit I hadn’t really given him much thought. But sometimes all it takes to appreciate someone’s work is further exposure to it, and so it is with McCrea. He has a mellow, old-fashioned all-American quality that is really growing on me. He is really good in Espionage Agent (1939) as the diplomat whose wife (Brenda Marshall) has been forced into spying for the Nazis in the early part of WWII, before the US entered the war.

The film has the same producer as Casablanca, Hal Wallis, and it shares an anti-isolationist perspective with that picture and with Foreign Correspondent, which also starred McCrea. Agent is like a cross between Correspondent, Night Train to Munich and Confessions of a Nazi Spy. No wonder I really liked it.

What I also really dig about this film is the typography. It’s just really lovely. Espionage Agent isn’t available on video in any format…maybe Warner Archive will release it someday…for now we’ll have to rely on photos of my TV that I took with my phone.