STUDIO: Warner Home Video
MSRP: $19.97 RATED: NR
RUNNING TIME: 98 Minutes
Theatrical trailer
Radio advertisement

To be honest, I had never heard of Libeled Lady before I received it for review. Sure, I knew of Spencer Tracy and the rest of the crew onboard, but never had I heard of the plot or story that is wrapped within and around this deemed classic.

Haha bitches, here we come!

The Flick

Spencer Tracy plays Warren Haggerty, the chief editor of the New York Evening Star. He’s a workaholic, one who keeps delaying his marriage to his fiancée Gladys Benton (Jean Harlow). What makes things worse is when the New York Evening Star is sued on a libel charge by the “husband-stealing” Connie Allenbury (Myrna Loy); Haggerty is forced to cancel his wedding plans in order to save his newspaper from fallout. This upsets Gladys greatly, and for some reason she continues to roll with Warren’s excuses. Scrambling for a plan of action, Haggerty hires Juan Bill Chandler (William Powell) to marry his fiancée Gladys and then seduce Connie Allenbury into breaking his lawful marriage bond with Gladys.

Sound confusing? At first it is, but after a couple of scenes one picks up on the premise and that’s when things really begin to pick up on their way to the spiraling conclusion. Like its noir counterparts of the time, Libeled Lady quickly becomes a “who’s playing who” event but with less drama and more comedy. It’s guessing what’s going to come next that makes Libeled Lady an entertaining experience to behold.

"What would you like to wear today sir?"
"I think I’ll wear my cute purple sunglasses!"

For the most part, the cast has a good chemistry as a whole. Spencer Tracy’s Warren is truly what I would call an ass but he’s never abusive towards Gladys. This way Tracy continues to remain the lovable character we’ve seen him play so many times before. Doing so allows use to forgive him for his downfall which is to love his job more than a woman that would do just about anything for him. It’s a real shame how Tracy manages to pull this off with real ease.

William Powell is probably the most likable character throughout the film mostly because he gets to play on both sides of the table and see all of the cards at the same time. His charisma and charm carry the middle of the film and it’s interesting to watch him manipulate both of the women and his employer (Haggerty) in order to get what he wants in the end.

"What do you mean Steve Martin will play Father of the Bride better than me!?"

Myrna Loy’s representation of the high class culture reminds me a bit of how Katherine Hepburn was in real life. Connie Allenbury has a lot of money, but that doesn’t mean that she will mind getting her hands dirty when necessary. There is a playful spirit to her character that only comes through when Bill Chandler is around. I really enjoyed how Loy played this point throughout the film.

Jean Harlow’s Gladys is annoying but that’s how the character is meant to be played. Gladys subtle naïve nature causes her a lot of pain, but little does she realize the emotional trauma Warren is putting her through by paying no attention to her. For her to agree to marry a man in order to save a newspaper is a bit absurd, but it works here in a skewed and unwell manner.

"15 cents isn’t worth only getting the REAL love stories!"

There is a lot of wordplay between Powell and Loy and not as much physical comedy from Tracy as I expected there to be. It seems that Tracy handed those reins over to Powell for this ride around. It’s also interesting to note that Walter Connolly makes an appearance as Connie Allenbury’s father, James Allenbury, a connoisseur of fishing which helps lead to much of the physical comedy throughout the middle of the film.

The ending for Libeled Lady comes on a little too quickly and wraps things in a bow a little too nicely. With as cynical as things start and progress throughout the film, I find it a little shameful as too how cleanly things are settled when it’s all said and done. It’s a well starred effort as a whole, but I’m still debating as to weather or not it’s an unsung classic of its time.

7.5 out of 10

Money became tight on the set and William was forced to share his meal with the horses.

The Look

Poor. Scratches and dust is very apparent throughout the transfer. It makes me wonder if they quickly dubbed a VHS copy onto DVD for this release. I’m pretty disappointed, considering the good work I’ve seen Warner put out onto the market as of late.

4.0 out of 10

"When I say ‘roll on two’ you hold real tight, OK honey?"

The Noise

Every word can be heard, which is all that is needed to watch this one. There’s no need for a Dolby 5.1 remix, but a little scrubbing of the audio to separate the dialogue from the music would have been nice.

5.0 out of 10

Tsunami’s? Bah! We’ve got milk in trouble here!

The Goodies

This disc is bone dry except for a theatrical trailer that emphasizes the four cast members acting together in the picture. There is also a “Leo Is On the Air” radio promo for the film that is something I’ve never seen included on a disc before. With an approaching decade long career in radio, it was interesting to listen as to how films were promoted back in the day.

5.0 out of 10

One of the Nation’s Punched

The Artwork

Classy. I believe this utilizes the original artwork piece created for the film’s release back in ’36. The separation of the three from Connie is a nice touch.

9.0 out of 10

Overall: 7.0 out of 10