It's a Sort of Wonderful Life
"Made for Each Other" is a curious movie partly because whilst it came 7 years before James Stewart starred in "It's a Wonderful Life" it has a similar story of a man who ends up feeling a failure because of money worries and life hasn't gone as it planned. It is also curious because the movie has such contrasting halves with the first half being a fun romantic comedy and the second half being dark melodrama which collide ferociously as if the first part of "Made for Each Other" was made by one director and then the second half by someone else. The end result is an entertaining movie with the partnership of James Stewart and Carole Lombard delivering enjoyable and at times dramatic performances but the whole thing just lacks something to make it stand out.
Returning from a work trip to Detroit young lawyer John Mason (James Stewart - Mr. Krueger's Christmas) has a surprise, in the space of just a few hours he met and married the beautiful Jane (Carole Lombard - To Be or Not to Be), something which leaves his mother distraught. With a good chance of moving up the company ladder to become a partner John and Jane move into a new home with his mother and soon start a family as they have a baby boy. But when John doesn't get the partnership he was expecting things take a turn for the worse as money worries leads to stress leaving John feeling a failure who believes Jane would be better off with out him.
"Made for Each Other" is very much a movie of two halves and the first half is all romantic comedy from John trying to speak to his boss Judge Doolittle who is hard of hearing to John & Jane breaking the news to his mother that they got married. And whilst it is all very typical and cutesy with some face pulling from James Stewart and loving looks from Carole Lombard it is entertaining. There is a nice flow to it and it does signal trouble ahead when John misses out on the partnership he was hoping to get.
But then the second half comes along and "Made for Each Other" suddenly becomes much darker as the stresses and strains get too much for John. It almost feels like a different movie because the majority of the humour and romance vanishes and in place of it we get heavy scenes of emotion, shouting and some camera work which has a touch of the thriller about them. The annoying thing is that whilst the first half and second half literally clash together the actual drama of the second half is good and you are sucked in to the unravelling drama of John's despair.
This second half also means we get to see very different sides to James Stewart and Carole Lombard whose lightness makes the first half so much fun yet switch it on to deliver darkness in the second half. The look on Stewart's face as first he delivers the feelings of failure as John lets things get on top of him and then despair when trouble arrives is brilliant and Carole Lombard is just as impressive as she delivers tearful emotion. It is very much the skill of James Stewart and Carole Lombard which makes "Made for Each Other" worth watching although Charles Coburn adds a touch of humour as the hard hearing judge.
What this all boils down to is that "Made for Each Other" is an entertaining James Stewart and Carole Lombard movie with some similarities to Stewart's "It's a Wonderful Life". There is something lacking from it to make it memorable but the performances from Stewart and Lombard make it worth seeing.