Libeled Lady is one of those films that was only nominated for one Academy Award, the big one: Best Picture. I don’t have the stats on how often this happened, but early on in the process and especially from 1931-1943 when they had more than five nominees (the 5th ceremony had eight nominated films and the 6th-16th ceremonies each had ten nominated films), this was more common than it is now. Regardless, it is a wonderful screwball comedy with an outstanding main cast: Jean Harlow, William Powell, Spencer Tracy and Myrna Loy. All four of them have amazing comic timing and chemistry to spare. The other films nominated that year were: Anthony Adverse, Dodsworth, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, Romeo and Juliet, San Francisco, The Story of Louis Pasteur, A Tale of Two Cities, Three Smart Girls and winner The Great Ziegfeld.
I know there is at least one book on this subject and I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, but thanks to TCM showing several movies from that year, I have to agree completely. What I mean by Cinema, is Hollywood and American Cinema, because a lot of how it changed was based on things French New Wave directors had already been doing for almost ten years.
One way to see this change is by looking at the five films that were nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars that year. Four of the films are harbingers of the new Hollywood. One is old guard and because of that in addition I want to talk about another film that, although nominated for four Oscars, was not up for Best Picture.
The five films up for Best Picture were Bonnie & Clyde, Doctor Dolittle, The Graduate, Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner and In The Heat of the Night. The film sixth film I’m going to discuss is In Cold Blood.