- by Zoë
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.
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
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
- by Kathy
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!
DAILY TRIBUNE Film Review - November 26, 1937
- by Mae Tinée
- submitted by Renee Klish
'Awful Truth' Is
the Kind That Pleases
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
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
Click here to read
Susanna's review of "The
Click here to read Jenny's Crackpot
Reviews at the Cary Grant Shrine
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