Libeled Lady (1936)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Screwball Comedy  |   Release Date - Oct 9, 1936 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 98 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

While Libeled Lady is not one of the greatest screwball comedies, it is still a good, very funny representative of the genre, and contains a truly classic fishing sequence. That it misses making it into the top tier is due to minor problems with the script and direction. The former feels a little underdeveloped, as if the four credited screenwriters were too busy concentrating on bits of business and funny lines to devote enough attention to fully developing the characters and justifying the turns of plot. Jack Conway's direction is also a little too consistently raucous, robbing some of the sequences of their impact. However, this is a small price to pay, and the lightning pace certainly has its own benefits. Of the film's luminous quartet, Spencer Tracy might seem the odd man out, but he, in fact, gives a marvelously outsized performance and is unafraid to appear out-and-out silly when the occasion calls for it. William Powell is silky smooth, using his self-deprecating humor to good effect, and Myrna Loy is both sassy and sophisticated. Jean Harlow is vibrant, working her special magic on the proceedings and proving that few actresses of the period could equal her way with a one-liner.