It's the fall of 1936, and William Powell is getting rave reviews for his work with Carole Lombard in the Universal comedy "My Man Godfrey." But weeks after that hit theaters in September, Powell's home studio of MGM added to the fun by releasing another star-studded comedic treat -- and we've just learned it's being issued on Blu-ray next month. Ladies and gentlemen, please meet...
...the Blu-ray version of "Libeled Lady," slated to be available Nov. 24.
See what I mean by "star-studded"? Powell, frequent on-screen partners Myrna Loy and Jean Harlow (the latter his real-life romantic partner at the time), and up-and-coming Spencer Tracy. That's star power, and MGM went so far as to display them strolling proudly before providing the title:
"Libeled Lady" is both a newspaper comedy and a romantic one, and the fun never stops as the four principals continually switch alliances to advance their ambitions, with the always-reliable Walter Connolly serving as the fifth wheel. (He's the wealthy father of Loy's character, an heiress who's been libeled in a newspaper and now is threatening to sue it out of existence.) A desperate Tracy (the paper's editor) tracks down former ace reporter Powell to get him out of a jam, much to the chagrin of Harlow, Tracy's perpetually-jilted fiancee.
The plan: Have Powell marry Harlow, whom she deems an "ape" ("The ape objects," Powell coolly says), send him to England to sail back with Loy and Connolly, then catch her in a genuinely compromising situation. There's one little problem, though: Powell and Loy fall for each other, especially after he tries to pass himself off as an ace fisherman and somehow lands a huge walleye trout. (The fishing scene is among the most memorable of Powell's career.)
Eventually, everything falls into place (or so we think), but not before the four have a few final squabbles and Connolly arrives at the end to try to make sense of it all:
By now, I think you know I love this movie. And this version is a 4K restoration which also includes the original theatrical trailer, a "Leo Is On The Air" radio promo and a short subject or two.
The Blu-ray has yet to be reviewed anywhere, so I can't furnish information on how good it looks and so on. News of its release drew plaudits at hometheaterforum.com (https://www.hometheaterforum.com/community/threads/warner-archive-press-release-libeled-lady-1936-blu-ray.369446/#post-4921620). Don't see any prices yet, so keep checking your favorite outlets for info.
There's one person whom I wish could see this Blu-ray issue, because he more than anybody helped return it to the public eye...
...Robert Osborne, the man who helped put Turner Classic Movies on the map. Osborne called this his favorite comedy, and TCM's frequent playing of it helped revive interest in this and other Powell titles. Thanks, Bob.