Libeled Lady is a 1936 screwball comedy film starring Jean Harlow, William Powell (who were romantically involved at the time), Myrna Loy and Spencer Tracy. The movie was written by George Oppenheimer, Howard Emmett Rogers, Wallace Sullivan and Maurine Dallas Watkins, and directed by Jack Conway.
Libeled Lady was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture. The film was remade in 1946 as Easy to Wed with Esther Williams, Van Johnson, and Lucille Ball.
Wealthy Connie Allenbury (Myrna Loy) is falsely accused of breaking up a marriage and sues the New York Evening Star newspaper for $5,000,000 for libel. Warren Haggerty (Spencer Tracy), the chief editor, desperately turns to former reporter and suave ladies' man Bill Chandler (William Powell) for help.
Bill figures that, if he can maneuver Connie into being alone with him when his wife shows up, the suit will have to be dropped. Chandler is not married, so Warren volunteers his long-suffering fiancée, Gladys Benton (Jean Harlow), over her loud protests.
Bill arranges to return to America from England on the same ocean liner as Connie and her father J. B. (Walter Connolly). He pays some men to pose as reporters and harass Connie at the dock, so that he can "rescue" her and become acquainted. On the sea voyage, Connie initially treats him with contempt, assuming that he is just the latest in a long line of fortune hunters after her money, but Bill gradually overcomes her suspicions.
Complications arise when Connie and Bill actually fall in love. They get married, but Gladys decides that she prefers Bill to a marriage-averse newspaperman and interrupts their honeymoon to reclaim her husband. Bill reveals that he found out that Gladys' Mexican divorce wasn't valid, but then Gladys tops him. She got a second divorce, and she and Bill are actually man and wife. Fortunately, Connie and Bill manage to show Gladys that she really loves Warren.
Libeled Lady went into production in mid-July 1936 and wrapped on 1 September. Location shooting took place in Sonora, California.
Lionel Barrymore was originally cast as Mr. Allenbury, while Rosalind Russell was originally considered to play Connie Allenbury.
Jean Harlow and William Powell were an off-screen couple, and Harlow wanted to play Connie Allenbury, so that her character and Powell's would wind up together. MGM insisted, however, that the film be another William Powell-Myrna Loy vehicle, as they originally intended. Harlow had already signed on to do the film but had to settle for the role of Gladys Benton. Nevertheless, as Gladys, top-billed Harlow got to play a wedding scene with Powell. During filming, Harlow changed her legal name from her birth name of Harlean Carpenter McGrew Bern Rosson to Jean Harlow. She would make only two more films before dying at the age of 26 in 1937.
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