(directed by Jack Conway, 1936)
***** (out of 5)
> Four iconic stars conspire to make this sophisticated black-and-white comedy romp a classic of its genre.
. Spencer Tracy, Jean Harlow, Myrna Loy and THE THIN MAN’s William Powell all give strong performances in this story about an arrogant newsman, (Tracy, in a rare performance where he is playing a basically nasty fellow), who, in a rush to slander a professional rival, prints an unsubstantiated story on the front page that amounts to a clearly libelous attack. When he discovers the unreliability of the story, he does his best to recall every tainted copy of the paper. But he is too late- the libeled lady in question (Loy) gets her hands on a copy and immediately sues for millions in damages. But Tracy hatches a dishonest plot to place her in a compromising position with a skilled ladies-man (Powell) and part of the plot involves a sham marriage between his left-at-the altar girlfriend (Harlow) and this wily rogue.
. LIBELED LADY ranks among the best of its era- and is notable for the rare sympathetic light the hoity-toity wealthy class is portrayed in. In films of this era, such high-class nabobs are usually shown as greedy takers, having no sense of the “lower” classes at all. But Ms. Loy is the wronged person here, and her plight does eventually engender sympathy, when the man who is supposed to trap her begins to fall in love with the target of his machinations.
. Yes! Loved it. Why can’t someone make films like this today? Are we just too “sophisticated” for our own good? Could be…
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