Monday, January 18, 2010

Lombard and Stewart are "Made for Each Other"

Made for Each Other is a delightful little melodrama. Carole Lombard and James Stewart star as Jane and John Mason, a young couple who meet while he is on a brief business trip, fall in love, and marry, as they say, in haste.  Jane returns to John's New York City apartment, to find she has inherited a mother-in-law who is horrified that her son has passed up marriage to the boss' daughter for this precipitous union. Instead of winning a partnership in his law firm, John finds himself and his bride crammed into an apartment too small for his wife, mother, and new baby - the result of a salary cut that quickly plunges the new family into debt.  His frustration, the pain of his wife as she struggles to keep them together, and the travails that must face make us hope they are indeed "made for each other".

As with the film last week, we spent a lot of time discussing the character performances. Again, Charles Coburn shone.  His role this time is that of Judge Doolittle, the head of the law firm for which John Mason works.  At once humorous and infuriating, we watch this man, whom we originally think is an ogre, morph into a human being - and one we begin to love.  The same is true for Lucile Watson as John's mother.  The picture of the mother-in-law from hell, we wait for her to come through in a crisis, and she does.  The thing that is wonderful about their performances, is that we don't find either change out of character or unrealistic. Both Coburn and Watson are such pros that understand exactly why we see a change.  Here's a scene with Coburn:

Finally, a word about Louis Beavers as the wonderful maid, Lily.  Her warmth and affection for Jane, which Jane reciprocates, make for a lovely respite to all the troubles Jane faces.  The New Year's Eve scene where Lily visits as she is on her way to a party is delightful, and says so much about the goodness of this lovely woman.  We discussed Ms. Beavers at some length, eventually touching on her 1934 turn as Delilah Johnson in Imitation of Life and as Gussie in Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House. A wonderful actress, she brought great strength of character to every role she played.

We'll be back soon with Ms. Lombard in Hands Across the Table.

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