Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB. USA, 1939. Selznick International Pictures. Screenplay by Jo Swerling, suggested by a story by Rose Franken. Cinematography by Leon Shamroy. Produced by David O. Selznick. Music by Oscar Levant. Production Design by William Cameron Menzies. Costume Design by Travis Banton. Film Editing by James E. Newcom.
Tenderhearted tale takes a good look at the early years of marriage and the struggles some couples go through to survive it together. James Stewart and Carole Lombard play newlyweds who don’t even get to have a proper honeymoon thanks to Stewart’s demanding boss, their early days spent having to live in a small tenement with his overbearing mother. Before long the stork delivers a gift to the couple which threatens to be taken away by a terrible illness if a certain rare medicine can’t be found in time. One of Lombard’s rare dramatic performances, the film benefits mostly from her giving so much strength and dignity to what would otherwise be a dull, weepy housewife. The last third of the film, involving a high-speed airplane flight to reach the ailing infant in time, is terribly out of place (it was based on an actual event that happened to David O. Selznick when one of his children was near-fatally sick), but doesn’t deter from the poignancy of the film.