Made for Each Other (1939)

This entry is for Movie Rob’s August Genre Grandeur: Medicine. Be sure to check out the other entries!

Made for Each Other- 1939- Poster.png

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.

Made for Each Other
(TCM) Such Cuties!

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.

Made for Each Other (1939) Carole Lombard, James Stewart, Charles ...
Happy Family?

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”.

Carole Lombard: Dramatic Actress

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!

Vivacious Lady (1938)

I cannot think of a better way to start 2019 blogging, as I am more than thrilled to help Crystal of In the Good old Days of Classic Hollywood and Robin of Pop Culture Reverie celebrate the motion pictures made in the year 1938. Speaking on a personal level, I say the films of 1938 certainly rival the ones made in 1939. 1938 has a slew of great movies in itself and its about time we recognize the year’s legacy in film history.

Vivacious Lady

For this blogathon, I chose to pay tribute to a wonderful non-dancing Ginger Rogers picture made at RKO, Vivacious Lady, produced and directed by George Stevens; co-starring James Stewart in one of his first roles as a leading man.

Vivacious Lady is a wonderful often overlooked screwball gem. Its got a plot we all are familiar with- Girl (Francey) and Boy (Professor Peter Morgan) meet, get married on a whim, and afterwards have trouble finding alone time!

For Ginger, this part was the role she had been looking for to prove herself as a straight comedic actress, she was without Fred Astaire, there were no elaborate dance or singing numbers. Whereas for James Stewart, it gave him exposure to audiences as the leading man. Up until this point he had been a supporting player, playing everything from Jean Harlow’s boyfriend in Wife vs Secretary to After the Thin Man’s “Bad Guy”- but this role elevated him to the roles he was meant to be playing.

Jimmy and Ginger

This movie benefits from their genuine chemistry and during production although the two were NOT dating Jimmy and Ginger did date closer to 1940, ending sometime when Jimmy went to war. 

Not to be ignored are the immaculate supporting cast of character actors: Beulah Bondi and Charles Coburn as Peter’s parents, James Ellison as cousin Keith and Francis Mercer as Helen, the ex-fiancee.

The stand out scene of the movie occurs with Francey and Keith teaching Mrs. Morgan how to dance “The Big Apple”- and then Mr. Morgan walks in on the lesson! The expression on Charles Coburn’s face makes me laugh every time!!

However, the funniest part comes when Francey and Helen have perhaps one of the first girl v girl cat-fight in the movies- remember this movie pre- dates The Women!

Nice one Ginger!

The scene is so hysterical without being over the top- its basically sheer perfection! Ginger recalls in her autobiography (Ginger: My Story) the fight, “was choreographed as carefully as any ballet“, and all of its humor came down to George Stevens’ editing.

In all retrospect, 1938 was a turning point for both Jimmy and Ginger- even though they never made another film together. Jimmy of course was on his way to being the star we know today, starring in You Can’t Take it With You later that year. Ginger made Carefree with Fred Astaire and Having Wonderful Time and was moving towards a solo career.

As for George Stevens, he was in the middle of his Hollywood career with not only war documentaries ahead of him, but also many legendary productions as well including Woman of the Year, Shane, and Giant.

Click here to check out TCM’s page on Vivacious Lady and to look for upcoming airdates!

CLIPS: Youtube, PICTURES- dvdbeaver.com and IMDB

You Can’t Take it With You (1938)

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(Note- Earlier I was working on this and I accidentally hit “publish” instead of “Save”- sorry to my email followers!)

Based of the hit Broadway play and directed by Frank Capra, You Can’t Take it With You (1938) is one of the best from the best. And because this is for the Barrymore blogathon, the star at the center of this film is Lionel Barrymore.

You Can’t Take it with You is a story about two people who just get engaged, Anthony “Tony” Kirby (James Stewart) and Alice Sycamore (Jean Arthur) but they come from two different worlds- Tony is from a rich, slightly stuffy family, while Alice comes from a poorer, slightly eccentric, but loving family. Alice fears she will not be accepted by Tony’s family, and Tony fears his stuffy family will not approve of his choice. The film then plays out to see whether or not the two families can get along for the sake of Alice and Tony.

You Can't Take It with You 1938 Poster.jpg

Personally I just think this film is charming- as not only does it teach us to accept differences, its just a cute story in general. So many good moments and one liners (really don’t wanna spoil them!). I LOVE Jean Arthur- I probably relate to her more than any other actress- and James Stewart is just great. All the players were well cast right down to the supporting players. But it is Barrymore’s portrayal of Grandpa Martin Vanderhof that keeps everyone together- and is the conscience of the film. He’s just the type of guy you want as your own grandfather.

Sadly by the time of this picture’s production, Barrymore was suffering from health problems and the character was altered to accommodate his medical needs. The crutches, Grandpa Vanderhof uses served to help Barrymore stand, and it was explained in the movie as his character having a sprained ankle from sliding down the banister (because why else?? :-)) ) .

I say one of my favorite scenes has to be when Alice and Tony are sitting together at dinner and their dance together ! Its too cute! 😉

But in this film there is also a great irony, as in this movie, Barrymore plays the moral compass of the film, bringing everyone in and advocating for Tony and Alice’s union, but in Frank Capra’s other classic, It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), he plays the meanest of the mean, the banker Mr Potter. Just goes to show the versatility in Barrymore’s ability and that he can make audiences both adore, and (love to) hate him.

CREDIT GOES TO: Classic Movie Hub

IN the end, I do not call Capra’s films “CapraCorn” and even if they are- so what! They are all adorable and at the heart of all of them, contain a sweet love story. If you haven’t seen this Capra work, put it on your list- its just splendid!

Other picture credits- Wikipedia