The Awful Truth - 1937

The Awful Truth - Released October 21, 1937. Directed by Leo McCarey

A misunderstanding between two devoted married people (Cary Grant and Irene Dunne) lands the pair in a divorce action which quickly degenerates into a war with each partner working fervently to wreck the others attempts at a new life and romance. At first the battle is over the custody of their pet dog, but eventually everything is game, and the obvious questions comes up: how can two people work so hard at torpedoing a divorce each claim they desperately want?

Comedy highlights are tailored for each star, in particular Irene Dunne's character is shown going to unusual lengths (pretending to be Cary's sister) and in this way Dunne gets to play at impersonation much in the same way that she excelled in Theodora Goes Wild (1936).

Grant gets to practice looking aghast, something that he utilized in many other films (for example Bringing Up Baby, 1938).

Director McCarey Has a lot of fun destroying a perfectly good divorce, and his comedy skills aren't by accident - he was the director on what many consider the Marx Brothers best film Duck Soup (1933.)

Ralph Bellamy is on hand as a naive Oklahoma oil tycoon, with elderly mother in tow (Esther Dale), and he is smitten instantly upon meeting Irene Dunne who is across the hall from his New York City apartment. Like a dry run for His Girl Friday of 1940, where Bellamy played a similar role of trying to hang on to a new girlfriend who just happens to be divorced from Cary Grant, who continuously sabotages the proceedings.

A few comedic songs show up in The Awful Truth, including a very odd tune called Gone with the Wind which has actress Joyce Compton (as Dixie Belle Lee) singing:

I used to dream of a cottage small,
a cottage small by a waterfall
But I wound up with no home at all
My dreams are gone with the wind

At which point a puff of compressed air blows her skirts upward like Marilyn Monroe in Seven Year Itch.


Original Page Sept 20, 2015 | Updated July 3, 2017

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