LIBELED LADY

(1936)
With Jean Harlow, William Powell, Myrna Loy, Spencer Tracy, Charles Grapewin
Directed by Jack Conway
Black and White
Reviewed by JL

Libeled Lady       Featuring a dream cast of four superstars of 1930s cinema, LIBELED LADY is a screwball comedy that is never quite as funny as it ought to be, but it's plenty of fun nonetheless.  Spencer Tracy plays a newspaper editor who always seems to become embroiled in work every time he's about to head to the altar to exchange "I do's" with fiancee Jean Harlow.  Wealthy society gal Myrna Loy threatens to sue Tracy's paper for five million dollars when the paper prints a false story about Loy's dalliance with a married man.  To fend off the lawsuit, Tracy instructs reporter William Powell to marry Harlow in name only, then attempt to court Loy, whereupon Harlow will sue Loy for alienation of affections unless Loy drops the suit against the paper.  Problem is, Powell winds up falling for Loy -- and he doesn't seem to mind the company of Harlow either.  It's an appropriately loopy premise, but the script seems oddly bereft of the sort of glib zingers and one-liners that typically mark the best screwball comedies.  Best scene in the film is the classic fishing sequence, in which Powell, having known fish only as dinner entrees or aquarium denizens, tries to pass himself off as a master angler to impress Loy and her sportsman father.  - JL

Screwball Comedy     The Stuff You Gotta Watch

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