Furs in Film – Libeled Lady

From 1936, we have Jean Harlow and Myrna Loy draped in some beautiful furs for the film Libeled Lady. Not sure what it is about divorce, but man, toss that into the plot and the costumers seem to really break out the furs. This film had no roots in anything but the script that birthed it, though it was remade later as Easy to Wed.

What’s great about Easy to Wed is they dressed almost exactly the same way… I’ll get to Easy to Wed later. Much like a sequel though, it didn’t quite live up to the quality of the original.

The Film

Libeled Lady tells the story of Connie Allenbury, who sues a newspaper for 5 million bucks for… libel. Miss Allenbury was falsely accused of… breaking up a marriage, in other words, causing a divorce. The newspaper’s editor (Spenser Tracy) sends suave lady’s man reporter (William Powell in “The William Powell Role”) to catch her en flagrante delicto with him when his wife walks in.

The “wife” is played by Jean Harlow, who is only posing as such at the behest of the editor, to whom she is doing a favor as they are in love. Complications arise, multiple divorces occur, and everyone lives happily ever after. Or rather, they all end up arguing when “The End” title card shows up.

The Furs

Bill Chandler’s (William Powell) plan to catch the lovely, wealthy Miss Allenbury starts on a cruise ship. It’s cold in the Atlantic, and Connie shows up for dinner in a beautiful white fox cape.

Connie is with her father, so Bill has to chat them both up at the same time.

Some girlfriends arrive, who are far less interestingly dressed.

Cinematographers are to be rewarded when they care enough to give a glimpse of all sides of a classic white fox cape like this:

Up next, Jean Harlow as put-upon faux bride Gladys Benton wears what is probably just a marabou feather sleeved nightgown. Anything that suggests an entire sleeve becoming a single cuff warrants mention. Those “cuffs” are huge.

Jean leaves the feathers behind for this chinchilla jacket / cape.

The collar looks like an errant sleeve cuff hanging off her shoulder, an interesting design.

Finally, as the screwball hi-jinks reach their apex, Miss Harlow spends the last ten minutes or so of the film in this dress coat with an enormous fox collar and trim. It’s there right up until the closing credits.

This shot shows the full dress coat in its entirety. Though the wide collar would probably be enough, the lower trim bookends nicely.

The collar literally fills the screen in this reaction shot, which occurs only once and is entirely too brief at about 2 seconds. Perfect framing:

I’d like to think Myrna is admiring that collar in this shot in a rather roomy bathroom. Then I realize my mind is wondering a bit too far.

Libeled Lady doesn’t skimp on Jean Harlow’s last huge fox trimmed dress. As mentioned, she literally spends the last 10 minutes of the film wearing it. It’s right there as it fades to credits. In terms of quality, Myrna Loy’s white fox cape is probably my preference, but the huge collar of Harlow’s dress is definitely the very close runner up.

Full Gallery: The Furs of the 1936 Film Libeled Lady

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