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Warren Haggerty is the chief editor of the New York Evening Star. He keeps on delaying his marriage with Gladys because of problems his newspapers must face. When it is filed a 5 million dollars claim by Connie Allenbury for having printed she is a marriage-breaker, he organizes the unconsummated marriage of Gladys and the don Juan Bill Chandler. The goal is to catch Connie alone with a married man... Written by
Libeled Lady is yet another screwball comedy about a ditzy heiress. But it certainly is one of the best that came out of the Thirties. All four stars are at the top of their game in this one.
The ditzy heiress is Myrna Loy. Some drunken correspondent from London filed a false story and Myrna and father Walter Connolly want to sue the paper. Owner Charley Grapewin and editor Spencer Tracy are worried. In fact Tracy has postponed his wedding to sweetheart Jean Harlow for the umpteenth time to meet this crisis.
He hires back former star reporter William Powell to get something on Loy. Tracy and Powell hatch a scheme that would involve Powell marrying Harlow temporarily and then wooing Loy to get her in a compromising position. Of course the long suffering Harlow actually agrees to this piece of insanity.
I'm convinced that Harlow's character is the model for Adelaide in Guys and Dolls. Adelaide put up with almost as much before she finally landed Nathan Detroit. It's hard to believe that a year later, Jean Harlow was gone.
Myrna Loy is not stepping too much out of character as the heiress. Her role her as Connie Allenbury is only about three steps from Nora Charles. She's a rich woman in the Thin Man also, indulging hobby Nick in his hobby as a detective away from his full time profession as drinker.
The women had worked with each other before and both male leads had played with both women before. But this was the only time that MGM heavyweights Spencer Tracy and William Powell were ever in the same film together. That in itself is reason to see Libeled Lady.
The single most hilarious scene for me is Bill Powell trying to fish in order to get in with Loy and Connolly. His scene in the trout stream landing 'old wall eye' is priceless. In fact Powell's battle with the fish was the premise for one of Rock Hudson's best comedies, Man's Favorite Sport.
And Tracy proved he could play sophisticated comedy. No doubt the reason MGM cast him with Katharine Hepburn later on.
Simply the best. Right up there with My Man Godfrey and all those sparkling comedies Tracy did with Hepburn later on.
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