Libeled Lady

This 1936 film, shown by TCM in its Summer under the Stars series on a day featuring William Powell (and available from Prime Video), is a sardonic comedy starring Myrna Loy (Connie Allenbury) as the wealthy daughter of business tycoon JB Allenbury (played by Walter Connolly).  Connie is falsely accused of breaking up a marriage and sues the NY Evening Star newspaper for $5 million for libel.  The paper’s managing editor, Warren Haggerty (Spencer Tracy) is desperate to make the suit go away (so he doesn’t get fired for the misreported front page story) and so turns to a former reporter of the paper (who he previously fired), Bill Chandler (William Powell).  Bill has quite the reputation as a ladies’ man which is the key to Warren’s plan. The movie revolves around an amusing scheme whereby Bill is to manipulate Connie into being alone with him when his wife shows up so that the suit will have to be dropped.  Because Bill is not married, Warren volunteers (over her strong objection) his fiancée, Gladys Benton (Jean Harlow) to marry Bill in name only.  While working through his scheme, Bill falls in love with Connie and Gladys falls in love with Bill.  Who will end up with whom is ultimately and amusingly resolved in a final scene skillfully pulled off by all four of the film’s major players.  Powell and Loy exude the on-screen chemistry that made everyone at the highpoint of their careers think that they were in fact married (in real life) – appearing in 14 films together will do that!  Jean Harlow is at her screwball comedy best; and, Tracy, with his natural performing style, executes his role flawlessly.  If you are a fan of any one of these stars (or, even better, all of them) this is a “don’t miss film” for you.  We give it a Worth the Search rating.  And as a post script, the movie was one of many mentioned in The Movie Palace Mystery Series. Since “Sally Lee” doesn’t have a review on her blog, we just knew we had to give her a shout-out on ours!

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