Category Archives: 1930s

Made for Each Other (1939)

This classic drama starring James Stewart and Carole Lombard made me cry an embarrassing amount of tears. I’ve said it a million times and I’ll say it again, I watch the movies for the stars. I’m an A-movie lover from beginning to end. Especially when characters like Jimmy and Carole are involved (You Can’t Take it With You orMy Man Godfrey anyone?).

But this one was different. In this film they were not flighty, awkward, or clumsy. They were newlyweds dealing with the daily strife of careers, marriage, and parenthood. When disaster strikes, they hold onto each other for better or for worse.

I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the other side of these character actors. I understand Stewart continues to several more dramatic roles, but this really broke the mold for Lombard. I think she makes the switch very gracefully and elegantly. Tragically, she didn’t survive another three years, and the world was never blessed to see where her talent could have taken her.

Quite the tear jerker, but let’s be real. That’s what makes a great film. Four stars?Made for Each Other (1939)

It’s a Wonderful World (1939)

The fact that this was a fantastic screwball comedy is no surprise whatsoever. You simply cannot go wrong with James Stewart and Claudette Colbert. It was similar to It Happened One Night in the banter except I love Jimmy ten times more than Clark Gable. They bicker, they fight, they fall in love, and someone always throws a punch.

I’m beginning to realize that my A-movie preference is unchangeable. I love the big names, the personalities, and the times they break them. I adore when couples appear in multiple roles together, as if their careers are long dramatic relationships that could involve the Civil War or the Great Depression. Perhaps that’s why I’ve fallen in love with all of these actors. I’ve been able to create the illusion that the world of film is one big movie, with actors loving and hating one another, failing and gaining triumph, and forming the roots of what make their personalities vital to the creative industries.

James Stewart was a detective, a writer, a cowboy, a night watchmen, an officer, a clown, a father, and a husband. That’s just the beginning. He can be any of those things, and while we’ll always know it’s really James Stewart beyond the makeup and costume, we’ll adore him all the same. This is a trait that is simply not found anymore in today’s world of film. It’s one of those things that continue to boost my desire to be in a completely different place at a completely different time.

Anyway, I loved this – five stars!

It's a Wonderful World (1939)

Midnight (1939)

You know how I usually do film stills as the image for these silly reviews, but I loved this cover art so much I couldn’t resist.

This story follows Claudette Colbert as a unemployed American blues singer stranded in Europe with nothing but the clothes on her back. Don Ameche, a taxi driver, takes pity on her, beginning an evening that would change her life forever.

It’s a goofy screwball comedy with a pretty loaded cast. I thought it would be similar to It Happened One Night,which is delightful, but unfortunately I ruined it a little for myself. My expectations were far too high, and I found myself reading during a film which was probably very clever and charming.

But alas, three stars.

Midnight (1939)

Dark Victory (1939)

This film starts with Bette Davis living in the fast lane, and soon discovers that her symptoms of lightheadedness, short term memory loss, and headaches, all of which she dismisses, are due to a malignant brain tumor. Releasing she only has a year to live, she keeps the prognosis a secret in order to live her remaining days in happiness.

Bette Davis continues to be a favorite of mine because she introduces something truly special in her performances. While other famed goddesses of the time weep for their lost love, her roles call for a deeper internal control. She is often cast in films that involve illness, great power and responsibility, or a battle within. This emotions are so executed through her giant eyes, so much so, in fact, that you feel as though you know her. She is so powerful in her expression, through her voice, her eyes, her body language, that her films involve a higher level of captivation.

Dark Victory was no different. Her role contained several layers of a human being: her fear, beyond anything else, at first controlled her very existence. Her love for the doctor soon provided a sense of control to her quick end of life. And in the end, her courage, allowed her enough strength to say goodbye.

I’m doing a Bette Davis double feature today, with The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex. I was shocked to see that these films were released in the same year. Her characters are like night and day. I continue to be impressed with Bette everyday. I absolutely adore her.

Dark Victory (1939)

The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939)

Oh what a surprise, another great Davis girl power role. Besides the fact that Elizabeth I was really cool anyway, combining these two power house women is unstoppable. This film has kind of a sad ending, but the guy who dies totally has it coming. Essex was trying to take the kingdom from Elizabeth, because he believed that a woman should not be in charge of the kingdom. She was too smart for him, and despite the fact that she loved him passionately, she made the right decision on behalf of the job that was bestowed upon her.

This was a great film, it was one that I chose to include on my “learn about British history” movie list. Most of these are incredibly embellished based on romance and ticket sales, but there is a decent amount of historical fact in these tales.

Olivia de Havilland starred alongside Davis and Errol Flynn as Lady Penelope Grey. This is the same year ofGone With the Wind’s release. And though my favorite role for her is in 1949’s The Heiress, this was a great role.

I’ll give it four stars, I definitely recommend it.

The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939)

Intermezzo (1939)

This romantic film takes place in Sweden and tells the tale of the forbidden love between two musicians. Leslie Howard plays Holger, a married violinist accompanied by Ingrid Bergman, who plays Anita, his pianist.

Since he’s married, Anita represents the “intermezzo” in his life. And as my musical sister just described to me, an intermezzo is a movement within a symphony that falls between two larger movements. As much as Anita and Holger loved one another, he had his family, and she had her career. Despite their passion, they held each other back from reality. Even in the happiest moments of their bliss, they both knew that the relationship had to end.

A romantic, sad, and inevitable ending. Anita takes a scholarship and probably becomes a world famous concert pianist, while Holger returns to his family and remains the father and husband that he should have been all along.

Intermezzo (1939)