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Youssoupoff v. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures, Ltd.
England and Wales Court of Appeal
50 T.L.R. 581 (1934)
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures, Ltd. (MGM) (defendant) produced a film about how Rasputin’s influence on the czar and czarina caused Russia’s destruction. A woman who had a relationship with Rasputin’s murderer was represented in the film as having been seduced or raped by Rasputin. Princess Irina Alexandrovna (plaintiff), who was later married to Prince Felix Youssoupoff, one of Rasputin’s murderers, issued a writ for libel against MGM. Alexandrovna alleged that reasonable people would understand that she was the woman represented in the film as having had these illicit relations with Rasputin. Alexandrovna called witnesses who testified that they had seen the film and understood it to relate to Alexandrovna. MGM called other witnesses who testified that they had seen the film and did not think it related to Alexandrovna and indicated whom they thought the characters in the film represented. The jury returned a verdict for Alexandrovna. MGM appealed, arguing that there was no evidence on which a jury could reasonably understand the Princess Natasha in the film to be Princess Irina Alexandrovna or find the film defamatory, and that the damages awarded by the jury were excessive.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Scrutton, J.)
Concurrence (Slesser, J.)
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