Made for Each Other [1939]

Produced in a time when films were both literally and figuratively black and white, Made for Each Other was unique in its effective blending of the comedic, the dramatic, and, as perhaps some would insensitively say, the melodramatic. Beautiful Carole Lombard and likeable James Stewart are Jane and John Mason, a couple who meet, fall madly in love, marry, and quickly have a baby. But while they--and the audience--are confident that they are meant for each other, life intercedes and the couple must meet with disapproving in-laws, job stress, financial challenges and, finally, a devastating illness. Lombard and Stewart--and the genuinely good people they portray--are utterly compelling and charming. Say yawningly what you will about tradition, but the Masons' is a path many, if not most, go down. And unlike the wonderful but wholly fantasy world of peer Preston Sturges, director John Cromwell's universe is, like real life, full of ups and downs. It's an accessible, sensitive portrayal. He gives the audience characters they want to see succeed, and to see stay together in the process. It may be a tale of triumph of the human spirit, but its ultimate sentiment--one that celebrates the kindness of strangers--is thoroughly sweet, though in no way saccharine. Look for a great supporting cast, including a blustery Charles Coburn as John Mason's boss, and Lucile Watson as Mason's interfering mother. --N.F. Mendoza

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