Truly a stellar cast: Powell, Loy, Jean Harlow and Spencer Tracy

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This screwball comedy is a superb concoction of mistaken identity, misinterpreted intentions and schemes that backfire. 

Spencer Tracy works for a newspaper that prints a libelous story about rich girl Loy; she immediately sues for 5 million dollars. Panicked, Tracy turns to con-man extraordinaire Powell for help in saving the paper and his job.

Powell cooks up a scheme where he, as a married man, will maneuver Loy into a compromising situation, thereby duplicating the situation in the slanderous article, only this time it will appear to be true.

There's only the question of finding a wife for Powell. Tracy happily produces his own long-suffering fiancée - Harlow - to fill the role. "The best-laid plans...", etc...and here the situation gets beyond anyone's control very quickly. Powell falls for his victim Loy, Harlow falls for her new husband Powell, Loy is unaware of the machinations going on around her but reacts admirably once she does find out, and Tracy is in danger of losing his sanity as well as his job.


Sympathetic Loy and skeptical  Powell look on as Tracy
attempts to explain to Harlow the latest  disastrous development.

All four principals are stunning: Powell is assured, debonair and almost successful in balancing his double life with the two women. (His attempt to pose as a seasoned fisherman is also one of the funniest scenes ever filmed.) Loy is at her most warm and beautiful as the spoiled playgirl whose love for Powell gives her a new-found sensiblity and maturity.  Tracy is suitably harrassed and spirited, proving once again that he could play
any role.


It is Jean Harlow, however who comes close to stealing the movie - a considerable achievement, given her co-stars. As Gladys, hungry for Powell's gentlemanly attentions after putting up with Tracy's casual treatment for years, she manages to garner sympathy without pity, as well as demonstrating a flawless comedic sense. ("That's arson!" she cries indignantly upon learning that Powell seems to have acquired two wives.)

Libeled Lady is a treat from beginning to wild ending - a wonderful showcase for four professionals proving deliciously just how they earned their status as superstars of the cinema.


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