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42 out of 46 people found the following review useful:
A galaxy of stars in a delightful comedy, 23 September 2005
Author: jotix100 from New York
The beginning of "Libeled Lady" shows its four stars walking arm in arm
toward the camera. The stars being Jean Harlow, William Powell, Myrna
Loy and Spencer Tracy, some of the best actors working in Hollywood in
Only a studio like MGM could pull this coup. They had in its heyday some of the best and more radiant figures in its payroll. As a studio, it could gather the best talents working in those days and create fabulous vehicles for them to shine, which is the case with this film. This delightful screwball comedy with romantic overtones has kept its luster even after almost seventy years since it was produced. Jack Conway directed with a light touch.
"Libeled Lady" got away with a lot having been filmed before the Hays Code got its grip in everything that was produced in Hollywood in the succeeding years. The dialog is quite frank and sophisticated, even for that era.
Jean Harlow had perhaps her best moment in the movies playing Gladys Benton, the woman who is engaged to be married and has her wedding postponed. William Powell, who was at the height of his career, and popularity, plays Bill Chandler, the man who is called to do a favor to the man that has fired him, by taking an interest in an heiress who is notorious for suing any newspaper that dares to print anything about her that is not true. Myrna Loy is the heiress, Connie Allenbury, who falls for the ruse that Bill Chandler is made to perform, but deep down she has fallen in love with him. Spencer Tracy is the editor of the newspaper in question, who concocts the plan to get the paper off the hook in paying the five million dollars.
In supporting roles we get to see some of the best actors of the time: Cora Witherspoon, William Connolly, Charlie Grapevine, William Benedict, Bunny Beatty, and others that enhance the film with their presence.
The film will not disappoint. It is one of the funniest comedies of that period.
29 out of 32 people found the following review useful:
Harlow's best movie, but Powell steals it!, 11 August 2004
Author: Stephen Alfieri (firstname.lastname@example.org) from Blauvelt, NY
William Powell must have loved the year 1936. It was the year he made "The
Great Ziegfeld" (which won the best picture Oscar), "My Man Godfrey"(for
which he was nominated for best actor), and one of the best screwball
romantic comedies ever made. That picture would be "Libeled Lady".
Although this film is widely viewed,with good reason, as one of Jean
Harlow's best films, I think that Powell steals the picture and runs away
with the best performance.
Not that the rest of the cast is too shabby, either. Myrna Loy as the titled character, and Spencer Tracy as a newspaper editor from Hell, add to the madness and mayhem. And Harlow is at her best in her role as a woman who is engaged to Tracy, and married to Powell. That's as far as I'll go as far as the plot is concerned. Just see the movie.
One of the best points about this film is the fact that it was made before the production code was put in place. Movies like this could be much freer with sexual situations and dialogue, while still leaving much to the imagination.
The film is directed at breakneck speed by Jack Conway, who smartly, gets out of the way and lets his wonderful actors take over.
If you haven't seen "Libeled Lady" yet, you must make a point of watching for it the next time it's on Turner Classic Movies. Then tape it. You'll be glad you did. You'll want to watch it over and over again.
9 out of 10
25 out of 28 people found the following review useful:
Unsung, starry gem of a comedy, 15 January 2004
Author: Poseidon-3 from Cincinnati, OH
A film with four stars of this magnitude was an event in 1936 and, indeed, it still is in 2004. Though the subject matter is slight and the acting is not too terribly taxing on the affable quartet, it was well-thought-of-enough to rate a Best Picture Oscar nomination. Tracy plays a newspaperman whose own wedding plans are interrupted by the fact that his paper has mistakingly run a libelous story about the daughter of one of his competitors. Loy, as the daughter, slaps a $5 million libel suit against Tracy's newspaper which, if won, will sink it. Since he knows he will lose, he rehires former employee Powell, who he feels will be able to charm Loy into an indelicate situation, thus rendering her reputation spoiled enough to cost her her libel suit. Part of the scheme, however, to make it seem legitimate is to marry off Powell to his own fiance (Harlow.) It is here that the film gets a lot of its laughs as desperate-to-wed Harlow finds herself getting married......but to the wrong man! Powell and Loy get most of the sparkling dialogue and sophisticated repartee, but contemporary audiences are likelier to get a kick out of mouthy, hilarious Harlow. Her comedic gifts (and her ample physical assets) are on prime display, notably when the judge says it's safe to kiss the bride and in a later scene where Powell is learning to fly-fish. All of the stars do very well and each gets a chance to rub up against the others. Powell and Loy are a legendary pairing with 14 films to show them off. Tracy does a slick job and shows his versatility. They are aided by a stable of amusing character actors, the type of people Hollywood was famous for and can no longer provide with regularity. (Today, almost any character actor that scores a hit is thrust into his/her own TV show, TV talk show or lead role in a film!) The film offers both wit and slapstick, wrapped up in some gorgeous sets and costumes. (The MGM gloss is fully in place.) Sadly, the light that was Harlow would be dimmed in just a year after this, but audiences are still able to enjoy her fine work in films like this.
24 out of 28 people found the following review useful:
"She may be married to him, but she's engaged to me!", 5 October 2005
Author: blanche-2 from United States
Spencer Tracy, William Powell, Myrna Loy, and Jean Harlow star in
"Libeled Lady," about the attempts to convince a society woman to drop
a lawsuit against a newspaper.
Spencer Tracy is a scream in his role of a newspaper editor who has been engaged to Jean Harlow for some time, but his work keeps getting in the way of their marriage and relationship. His whole life revolves around his newspaper. When an heiress, played by Loy, sues the newspaper for libel, Tracy puts William Powell to work, hoping that by photographing them together, he can convince Loy to drop the suit. But it will only work if Powell is a married man caught cheating, so Tracy convinces Harlow to marry him.
Harlow is her usual feisty self. Powell is marvelous, especially in his fishing scenes, which are classics, especially the one in which he literally chases a trout through a stream. It's laugh out loud material if there ever was any. Loy has the least showy part, though she's quite beautiful and works well with Powell, portending great things to come.
This is a very enjoyable film with Tracy milking the comedy for all it's worth. Apparently his comedic work was a revelation back then, unlike today, when we know how adept he was at it.
22 out of 27 people found the following review useful:
It doesn't get better than this, 25 December 2002
Author: saduran from Los Angeles, CA
Man oh Man. Harlow, Tracy, Powell and Loy in one film. There truly were more stars at MGM than in the heavens. This is one of the best screwball comedies of the 30's maybe only out done by My Man Godfrey. The script funny as heck even by todays standards. The acting top of the line. Tracy was great at comedy it's great that MGM allowed him to do one every know and then. Loy is Loy classy, sassy, funny and witty. Powell at the zenith of his game and Harlow glows and steals the film. Harlow marching around in a wedding dress is a hoot. It's hard to believe that within a year Jean Harlow would be dead. If it's on TCM or you see it in a video store grab it and see what a screwball comedy really looks like
16 out of 18 people found the following review useful:
Old-time madcap screwball comedy in the best sense!, 3 December 2006
Author: kimi615 from United States
It's always a pleasant surprise to run into one of Myrna Loy and
William Powell's legendary pairings. "Libeled Lady" was even more
pleasant than usual! Spencer Tracy is marvelous as the too smooth
operator, while Harlow shrills her way through the film, stealing every
Still and all, the real selling point of this film is the clever drawing room dialogue and rat-a-tat-tat delivery! One does not see this type of intelligent comedic script come out of Hollywood these days. Full of double entendre, perfectly honed sarcasm and beautifully timed quips, this film keeps you smiling, even as you wince at Powell's adept physical comedy, full of falls and falls and falls.
As for his co-star, watching Loy glow on screen is always magic, the moments that she raises an eyebrow and drops in a gem of a line, well, there's the real abracadabra...
9 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
An extremely funny movie - and boy can William Powell land fish!, 14 January 2007
Author: theowinthrop from United States
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
LIBELLED LADY is a comedy about the world of newspapers and libel
suits. Spencer Tracy is the editor of a leading New York newspaper, and
he is about to marry his long-suffering girlfriend Jean Harlow (they
have put off marriage several times in the past due to scoops Tracy had
to pursue personally). This time it's not a scoop, but a serious
blunder. The foreign gossip correspondent has submitted an item that
got printed concerning Myrna Loy's antics in England, suggesting that
she disgraced herself when drunk. This is bad enough, but the newspaper
owner (Charles Goodwin) is horrified by this error. It seems Loy's
father is multi-millionaire mover and shaker Walter Connolly, who had
political ambitions that Goodwin and his newspaper thwarted twenty
years earlier. Goodwin realizes that an angry, vindictive Connolly will
very likely sue the newspaper for libeling his daughter, and win
disastrously large damages.
While Harlow shows up in her wedding gown, fuming at this new delay, Tracy figures he will have to bury his own feelings and approach one time rival and foe William Powell to help him here. Powell is very clever at manipulating situations to get rid of troublesome problems (i.e.: he can possibly figure out a way of neutralizing the advantage Connolly and Loy have in the original libel article). Powell does come up with a scheme. If he can ingratiate himself with Connolly and Loy, he might be able to create a compromising situation regarding Loy that if revealed will make the libel story appear to be true. Tracy agrees to this plan, even though it requires Powell to marry Harlow, so that Loy (when she falls for Powell) can be made to appear a home wrecker. Harlow (at first) is not too thrilled about this, as she and Powell don't get along.
What follows is a series of delays that prevent the rapid evolution of the plot and it's proper springing on the unsuspecting Connolly and Loy. First it is harder to get Connolly away from his regular business interests to take an interest in Loy's new acquaintance Powell. But Powell finds the key when he learns that Connolly is one of the best trout fisherman in the United States. However, Powell himself has never bothered about fishing - we see him cramming from various books to learn the difference between fly fishing and other types. Then we see him practicing casting a fishing line with the assistance of E.E. Clive in the hotel rooms he shares with Harlow. He manages to snare Harlow while doing so (again much to her anger).
Invited to go to Connolly's favorite fishing spot, to try to catch the elusive "old wall eye", Powell manages to just miss drowning himself in the river, and does catch the fish the hard way - with his clothing. But it impresses Connolly and Loy.
The scheme is seemingly working, but three new wrinkles develop. Powell finds he is falling for Loy. Harlow is slowly finding the gentleman Powell is a nicer role model for a husband than the belligerent Tracy, and is now falling for Powell. Tracy (who barely tolerates Powell) is discovering that Harlow is less interested in him than she was before, and more interested in Powell - so Tracy is now jealous of Powell.
I will only add that the comedy ends with four people arguing it out in a hotel suite. Very fine comedy.
14 out of 19 people found the following review useful:
two strong ladies for the price of one, 25 January 2004
Author: didi-5 from United Kingdom
This MGM goodie has Jean Harlow and Myrna Loy, both strong characters who
know exactly what they want to get from Spencer Tracy and William Powell
all four principals in the cast are excellent, especially Harlow and
(any scene connected with fishing is funny, especially Powell's attempt to
land the great trout). Walter Connolly is also good value as Loy's
'Libeled Lady' is fast-paced, with lots of good moments concerning the plot around a newspaper - a would-be marriage - an heiress - a boat - and some great over-the-top scenes. Highly recommended!
14 out of 20 people found the following review useful:
Flawed, But Entertaining Gem, 29 October 2007
Author: krdement from United States
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
After Robert Osborne expressed the opinion that this film was better
than the film that won Best Picture of the year in 1936, and was one of
the very best screwball comedies ever, I was super-excited about seeing
it last night on TCM. It was even nominated for Outstanding Production
(Best Picture), while in the same year My Man Godfrey was not! For my
money My Man Godfrey is a far superior film.
The acting quartet of William Powell, Myrna Loy, Spencer Tracy and Jean Harlow is an incredible ensemble. To me, nobody stole the show; Powell, Loy and Harlow were all fantastic; and Tracy, in his first comedy role is very good. Walter Connolly is also outstanding as Loy's millionaire father. All were deserving of nominations, in my opinion. Do not blink, you won't want to miss a moment of dialog. They never miss a beat in the rapid-fire quips that characterized films (especially, but not only, comedies) of this era. There is nothing like it today. What a shame that writing such as this has become a lost art!
However, it is the writing in this film that, in the end, left this movie a couple of notches below My Man Godfrey. The dialog is scintillating throughout. But the ending fails to live up to the lofty expectations established by the rest of the movie.
Without any prior hints, we are taken by surprise by the "illegal Yucatan divorce" that William Powell uses to show that he did not really marry Jean Harlow. Coming out of the blue, it is not only pretty contrived, but smacks of the kind of device that Truman Capote rails against in the classic, Murder by Death, when he accuses the assembled mystery novel writers of introducing new characters and unforeseen plot twists in the last chapter to solve mysteries in a way that is completely unforeseeable to their readers. In Libeled Lady, however, there is not just one, but two such surprises. Harlow counters Powell's illegal Yucatan divorce with a legal Reno divorce that is unknown even to Powell! Harlow's diatribe is outstanding, and she nails the other characters who have simply been manipulating her to achieve their own happy ends. That speech, however, is not dependent upon the double divorce contrivance, and it could have been used in any alternate scenario.
Another weakness of the ending, is Spencer Tracy. As Tracy prepares to depart, Myrna Loy suggests that he has forgotten something. He says, "Oh, yes, my hat." He doesn't convey any emotional involvement with Harlow. He kisses her goodbye, saying something like, "See ya later." This indicates, at best, that Tracy expects to resume his same old relationship with Harlow, focusing his real attention on the newspaper. Harlow is fantastic, and we hope that her fate is better than to be stuck with the same Tracy who has ignored her for their entire relationship. For the ending to be truly happy, Tracy needs to show that he has learned that he needs to demonstrate affection toward Harlow, rather than pay it lip service. But the evidence seems to show otherwise.
In fact, at the movie's "happy" conclusion, Harlow and Powell are still married. Loy and Powell are not. And Harlow is stuck with Tracy, who we aren't real certain has seen the light. For this to be a real classic, the ending should have been a little less contrived and some of these loose ends should have been tied up. As is, things seem too unresolved, leaving us feeling slightly unsatisfied. Consequently it is an extremely enjoyable screwball comedy, but it is a step or two below the classics.
8 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
Snack, Crackle, Pop!, 23 August 2007
Author: puzzow from United States
One might wonder about casting 4 heavyweights in the same film-- any
one of the leads could carry a film by themselves-- but all together
you're afraid that they might either weigh down the film or, ala the
"Dream Team" 1990, fail to live up to expectations. But this is one
time you time you will not be disappointed-- with hysterical antics by
Jean Harlowe, the always dependable repartee between classy Myrna Lowe
and suave William Powell, and Spencer Tracy proving for the first time
that he can handle snappy dialogue like the best of 'em-- the chemistry
between the cast makes every scene in this film a delight.
The banter flies so fast you'll miss it-- this is the height of screwball comedy. When people say they don't write them like this anymore, alas, they really don't.
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