Oscar Movies: Merrily We Live (1938)–Comedy Starring Constance Bennett and Billy Burke

Merrily We Live is a pale imitation of My Man Godfrey, courtesy of producer Hal Roach.

Brian Aherne plays Wade Rawlins,  the gentleman vagabond whom  flighty society matron Mrs. Emily Kilbourne  (Billie Burke, doing her specialty) hires as a butler.

Rawlins’s pragmatic attitude stands in sharp contrast to the snobbery and phoniness of Burke’s wealthy household.

Gradually, the butler “humanizes” everyone around him. He also falls in love with daughter Jerry Kilbourne (Constance Bennett), the family’s snootiest and complicated member.

Critics at the time faulted Merrily We Live for being so unabashed a copy, but audiences loved the film, which became a huge hit.

The Oscar voters also showed their appreciation with five nominations, though the comedy won no awards.


Oscar Nominations: 5

Supporting Actress: Billy Burke

Cinematography: Norbert Brodine

Interior Decoration: Charles D. Hall

Sound Recording: Elmer Raguse

Song: Merrily We Live, music by Phil Craig, lyrics by Arthur Quenzer

Oscar Awards: None

Oscar Context:

The winner of the Supporting Actress was Fay Bainter for Jezebel.

The Cinematography Oscar went to Joseph Ruttenberg  for the operetta The Great Waltz.


Running time: 90 minutes.

Directed by Norman Z. McLeod