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.
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A lot of the movies form the 30s are really wonderful screwball comedies that came of age in the early 30s as a response to the newly enacted production code. Writers discovered that to get around the censors they could make sexual innuendo much more palatable by doing by comedy. Several of these are now famous classics like "It Happened One Night" and "Bring Up Baby."
But a real forgotten gem form this era is "Libeled Lady" from MGM in 1936 starring a stellar cast consisting of Spencer Tracey, William Powell, Myrna Loy and Jean Harlow. This movie is absolutely hysterical with so many killer one liners that it is hard to actually keep up. All four actors are brilliant in this movie that had aged really well and is well worth watching. Why this movie isn't better known today I have no idea.
The plot centers around a newspaper that has published an unflattering and untruthful story about a famous madcap heiress played by Myrna Loy. Spencer Tracey plays the hard boiled newspaper editor who is engaged but keeps delaying his wedding to the beautiful Jean Harlow. Myran Loy's character sues the paper for libel for $5 million an exhorbitant sum at the time.
Tracey brings in a former employee and nemesis from the paper played by William Powell who is a specialist in libel. He concocts a scheme to get in good with Myrna Loy and her father and attempt to woo here and then show she is the home wrecker the paper inferred she is. The problem is that he isn't married so Tracey arranges for him to marry his fiancee in a sham marriage.
But things dn't go as planned because Powell and Loy actuallly end up falling in love and Jean Harlow starts to get feelings for her fake husband instead of her fiancee and all kinds of misunderstandings and mayhem ensue. The plot is brilliant and the dialogue sparkles.
But what really makes this movie work are four really wonderful actors all at the top of their games. Jean Harlow is very funny as is Specer Tracey. The role fits William Powell like a glove but the real revelation here is the wonderful Myrna Loy whose demostrates a nice range here being both the haughty rich girl then showing the real heart she has underneath her glamorous exterior.
I've watched this movie several times and it gets better with each viewing. In an age where the newpaper business is dying and the whole notion of fame and publicty is so important this movie still resonates today with sharp dialogue and incredibly witty outlandish humor. If you love scewball comedies then you will love "Libeled Lady"