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"The Awful Truth"

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Character's Name: Jerry Warriner
Release Date:  October 21, 1937
Director: Leo McCarey
Studio:  Columbia Pictures
Running Time: 90 minutes

Cast: Irene Dunne (Lucy Warriner), Cary Grant (Jerry Warriner), Ralph Bellamy (Daniel Leeson), Alexander D'Arcy (Armand Duvalle), Cecil Cunningham (Aunt Patsy), Molly Lamont (Barbara Vance), Esther Dale (Mrs. Leeson), Joyce Compton (Toots Binswanger), Robert Allen (Frank Randall), Robert Warwick (Mr. Vance), Mary Forbes (Mrs. Vance), Claud Allister (Lord Fabian), Zita Moulton (Lady Fabian)

- by Zoë Shaw
Jerry and Lucy Warriner get a divorce, because they both believe the other to be having an affair. They fight for custody of Mr. Smith (the dog!), and Lucy wins. Jerry gets visiting rights. They both get new partners, but in the end they discover the awful truth - they cannot live apart.

- by Donna Moore

What a jolly romp this is! Jerry Warriner is supposed to have spent two weeks in Florida. But he hasn't. Oh my. When he gets home, his wife Lucy turns up with Armand, her voice coach, whose car broke down the night before, leaving them to spend the night in "the nastiest little inn". Oh my, oh my. They decide that the only option is divorce. Lucy gets custody of Mr. Smith, the dog, who brought them together in the first place. Their decree is to come through ninety days later. Both get engaged to other people and each does their level best to scupper the new relationship of the other - Lucy with her dull Oklahoma oilman and Jerry with his society heiress. The night before their decree becomes final, Lucy tricks him to Aunt Patty's cabin and the rest, as they say, is history.

My favourite scenes - Mr. Smith playing hide and seek with Armand's hat, the dancing scene, and Lucy pretending to be Jerry's nightclub singing floozy of a sister! This film is just what you need after a stressful day - candyfloss for the eyes, I love it and, oh how I wish I had a dog like Mr. Smith.

VARIETY Film Review - October 20, 1937
- by "Bert"
- submitted by Barry Martin
Every season for the past three finds Columbia rather unexpectedly turning up with an unheralded fast comedy which takes the public right up on its lap and proves, before it's through, a boxoffice bonanza.  Columbia's 'Happened One Night' started it, and while 'Awful Truth' won't be the mop-up 'Night' was, it will be a tidy little profit-taker, for the company as well as the playing-time.

Interesting, too, is that Irene Dunne, in the comedy lead, was first brought out as a celluloid comedienne by Columbia in 'Theodora Goes Wild.'  She tops that performance by almost an Alp in 'Awful Truth,' and Cary Grant, opposite, is flagged in on his best fast light-comedy performance to date.

The writing is smart all the way.  Vina Delmar, informative and easy writer in the modern idiom, accomplished a slick job of hauling up to date the basic good yarn in Arthur Richman's Broadway success of 15 years ago.

Pair of leads are married.  When Grant isn't satisfied with simple, innocent explanation of where and how Miss Dunne spent a  night away from home while he - faithful fellow - was feigning a trip to Florida and playing poker with pals around the corner, the couple obtain a divorce.  In splicing the marital link, only trouble in settling their affairs is custody of Mr. Smith, wirehaired pooch.  Miss Dunne gets it, with her ex permitted to visit the dog twice monthly.

Out of bored loneliness the divorcee starts tagging around with an ardent oil-rich Oklahoman (Bellamy), who furnishes not only a good performance, but spikes up the film with a lot of spontaneous comedy as a simple, rustic soul accustomed to staying always within the shadow of his mother's trailing skirts; and his mother (Esther Dale) means to have him learn about women from her.  He doesn't, of course.  Before he can marry the divorcee, her ex is so annoyingly back to see the dog the engagement is snapped. 

Meanwhile Grant has started looping around with an heiress.  Divorcee's interest is still at high pitch, and, to break off that possible catastrophy, she flounces into the home of the heiress and embarrasses the girl's family, but particularly her ex by palming herself off as his sister from Paris.  It is in this bit that Miss Dunne does the best tongue-in-cheek mart comedy trouping star has yet turned in. 

The windup is accomplished with a maximum of fun, with the wife almost resorting to kidnapping the man to get him back.

Miss Dunne goes vocal several times, once impersonating a phony Deep Dixie warbler (Joyce Compton), who works out a burlesque song in a night club sequence.  Other time is when Miss Dunne duets with Bellamy in a comedy chanting of 'Home on Range.'

Direction is first-water in effectiveness, and the timing Leo McCarey plotted for the fast comedy lines flawless.  Camera right in the running throughout.  Production Grade A.

Film will live up to the expectations of the filmgoers, no matter how much theatres promise the pic will deliver.  It will particularly come through at the spots which are patronized by payees attuned to smart comedy in the modern verve.  

NEW YORK TIMES Film Review - November 5, 1937
- by Bosley Crowther
- submitted by Barry Martin
The art of being Gallic, or bedroomish, in a nice way, is demonstrated with Celtic ingenuity (the principals are just interlocutorily divorced, not actually unwedded) and a technique which seems original, possibly because no one has dared to use it since the talkie revolution, in Leo McCarey's Columbia production "The Awful Truth," at the Music Hall. To be frank, "The Awful Truth" is awfully unimportant, but it is also one of the more laughable screen comedies of 1937, a fairly good vintage year. Its comedy is almost purely physical - like that of the old Avery Hopwood stage farces - with only here and there a lone gag to interrupt the pure poetry of motion, yet its unapologetic return to the fundamentals of comedy seems, we repeat, original and daring.

Its obvious success with a modern audience is also rather disquieting. Just when it began to appear that an excellent case had finally been made out for spoken wit and adultness of viewpoint on the screen, the mercurial Mr. McCarey, who only a few months ago saddened us to the point of tears with his "Make Way for Tomorrow," shocks us with a comedy in which speech is subsidiary, and maturity exists only to be deflated into abject juvenility. Though the film has a certain structural unevenness - some of the scenes having a terrific comic impact, others being a shade self-conscious - the final result is a picture liberally strewn with authentic audience laughs which appear to be just as unashamedly abdominal as they were in the days of Fatty Arbuckle.

The story is one that simply disintegrates under analysis. Its funniest scene, that of the dog, "Mr. Smith" (Asta of "The Thin Man") playing hide-and-seek, and repeatedly dragging out the incriminating derby hat from where Irene Dunne has hidden it, is based on the purely farcical premise that it would really have mattered to Cary Grant, her estranged husband, if he had found its harmless owner in the drawing room, when he arrived. If any jest in dramaturgy is more ancient than the piling up of rival males in a lady's boudoir, it must antedate the Greeks - a fact which doesn't keep it from being pretty funny in "The Awful Truth."

Miss Dunne and Mr. Grant as the couple who get undivorced, and Ralph Bellamy as the rich respectable suitor from Oklahoma have fun with their roles, and the pleasure seems to be shared, on the whole, by the Music Hall audience.  

- by Kathy Fox

This is Cary Grant's 29th film in six years.  What a prolific guy!!!   Also, this is a turning point in his career when we all find out that Cary is quite the comedian on the screen.  This is his first role with Irene Dunne, the others being MY FAVORITE WIFE in 1940, and PENNY SERENADE in 1941.  He was directed by Leo McCarey in two other pictures ONCE UPON A HONEYMOON in 1942 and AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER in 1957.  This was quite a daring film to make in 1937, the subject of divorce, treated as a comedy.  When Cary and Irene reported to Columbia Pictures, the script was only half finished and McCarey went through several changes, scrapping the original script shortly before shooting.  Grant was dismayed at this and offered Harry Cohn, the studio head, $5,000.00 to get out of the film, offering to do another film for free.  There was chaos on the set for many weeks and we can all see Cary's nervous tension reflected in his character of Jerry Warriner.  Cary, of course, made the film, and it was nominated for six academy awards, including Best Picture, but lost to THE LIFE OF EMILE ZOLA.  THE AWFUL TRUTH, is a love story about marital distrust.  Jerry Warriner (Grant) and Lucy Warriner (Dunne) are married without children and they have become suspicious and tired of one another.  Grant has taken a two-week vacation when he was supposed to go to Florida, but he was actually in his hometown playing cards with his friends.  Lucy becoming bored because she has been left at home is on the town with her voice coach, both incidents perfectly innocent.  However, it is perceived by each other that they are cheating and Lucy files for a divorce.  She gets temporary custody of the dog, Mr. Smith, played so cutely by Asta of THE THIN MAN series with Nick and Nora Charles.  Lucy meets a gentlemen, Daniel Leeson (Ralph Bellamy), who lives across the hall from the apartment she has rented with her Aunt Patsy.  Daniel falls head over heels in love with her and pursues her.  It is a comedy of errors that leads Jerry to start dating a socialite Barbara Vance (Molly LaMont).  It is ironic to note that the socialite was named Barbara and Cary had not yet met the first Barbara in his life, Barbara Hutton, whom he meets in 1938 and marries on July 8, 1942.  Lucy conjures up the funniest scenario in order to win her husband back, and of course all's well that ends well.  This is the film where the real Cary Grant that we all know and love is born and the Grant that we see on the screen henceforth.  This is hindsight, but what a shame that when Cary Grant started out he was not recognized sooner as a leading man because all the pictures he made in the beginning, he would have had the starring role!!  As is always, Cary has developed the small undertones and comments and slights that he uses throughout his career.  It is a pleasure to watch him develop into such a neat actor.  No one else comes close!    

CHICAGO DAILY TRIBUNE Film Review - November 26, 1937
- by Mae Tinée
- submitted by Renee Klish

'Awful Truth' Is the Kind That Pleases

Good Morning!

You may not split your sides watching this one - but you're going to have a mighty good time - because "The Awful Truth" is a mighty good show!

This feature comedy is to be classed generally with such films as "It Happened One Night" and "Mr. Deeds Goes to Town."  It's based on a play by Arthur Richman, and tells a tale about two rich, skylarking young married people who, while having a rumpus, decide to divorce one another . . . 

They obtain a ninety day interlocutory decree . . .

After a rib tickling series of complications involving Mr. Smith, their dog, a madcap heiress, a he man from Oklahoma, a male music teacher, an understanding auntie, the Oklahoma chappie's catty and possessive mamma - and dear knows how many other interested parties! - they decide, just a split second or two before the decree becomes final to - well - here's where the picture must carry on for you. 

The story is gay, mirth provoking, and scenes bordering on the risqué are handled in cleanly and delicate manner.

This is the first movie in which I have ever cared for Irene Dunne as a comedienne, and she's immense!  Plays with humor - and never overplays.  She never looked more beautiful, and her clothes are, well, girls - you wish you had them!

Cary Grant makes her a grand teammate.  Ralph Bellamy is fun as the Oklahoma prospect.  A fine supporting cast lends A-1 bolstering, and the movie has suspense, a song or two, and a number of unexpected twists that keep your interest pulsating.

As a most acceptable holiday eye and earful I can enthusiastically recommend "The Awful Truth."

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