This entry is for Movie Rob’s August Genre Grandeur: Medicine. Be sure to check out the other entries!
Made for Each Other may not have been happily received by audiences in 1939, but it’s one of those films that has aged nicely. Directed By John Cromwell and produced by David O Selznick, this dramedy stars Carole Lombard and James Stewart.
Upon initial release, audiences were probably shocked to find their favorite comedic actress Carole Lombard in a serious melodrama. Furthermore, James Stewart was still a new leading man, with this being one of his first parts with that title.
The flick is similar in spirit to 1941’s Penny Serenade with Cary Grant and Irene Dunne. Its peculiar, as many will say they love Penny Serenade (myself included) but Made for Each Other is awkward, slow moving, and uncomfortable to watch. I whole hearted-ly disagree, as it contains a sweet sentimentality and it’s a real showcase for Carole to prove herself dramatically. Moreover, it demonstrates Jimmy Stewart has always been capable of being the leading man even in his early career.
Made for Each Other does not start off revolving around medicine, but in the end, the whole film revolves around health and the macguffin of “life saving medicine“.
It all begins very dandy- with Jane (Carole) and John Mason(James Stewart) marrying on a whim. John is a young lawyer with an unsympathetic boss (Charles Coburn), and a domineering mother (Lucile Watson). Jane is very supportive of her husband, even reluctantly giving up her honeymoon cruise due to John having a case. Soon enough the couple has a baby, John Jr, and they move in with John Sr.’s mother.
Naturally all sorts of problems ascend: John struggles to move up at the law firm when his co-worker, Carter (Donald Briggs), is promoted instead of him, Jane clashes with her mother-in-law, and financial burden causes stress in the marriage. But the main conflict occurs when Baby John falls ill on New Year’s Eve. To save the baby’s life, it all comes down to the plane delivery of life saving medical serum.
There is no explanation of the serum will do, what it made of or anything of the sort- it just helps to save lives! And it’s a race against the clock, as the doctor says “every hour counts”.
The scene in which Jane is at the hospital, and sees the doctors pick up the oxygen tank is both over played and brilliant. Carole is brilliant at being distraught. She emotes such a rawness that can’t be seen in any other picture. On the flip side however, you can tell she’s over acting, and is somewhat uncomfortable with she’s trying to play out. I personally think Carole did her best, considering she wasn’t used to playing serious drama.
As for James Stewart’s performance in this picture, it may sound cliche, but I declare he’s a natural. He plays the drama so well, no over acting and you feel his range of emotion. Sometimes you can’t describe what makes James Stewart so great, you just have to watch him.
Overall, Made for Each Other is a fantastic example of what makes melodrama fun to watch. It’s just wonderful to watch Carole and Jimmy Stewart together, and you can tell they genuinely adore working together. The plot may be a bit far fetched, but what plot in melodrama isn’t?
Made for Each Other (1939) is in the public domain and is available to watch on YouTube!