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THE AWFUL TRUTH (1937)
Another classic screwball comedy from the 1930's. Jerry and Lucy Warriner are about to finalize a divorce which includes a custody case over the rights to their dog! But before matters are set in stone each decides to ruin all prospects for the other's chances of remarriage. Though Jerry is intent on remarrying to socialite Molly Lamont, and Lucy to oil-mogul Daniel Lesson, each tries to outdo and undo the other which results in hilarious and rather compromising scenarios.
Written by Viña Delmar.
THE AWFUL TRUTH was nominated for the 1937 Best Picture award.
Directed by Leo McCarey.
Based on the stage play, "The Awful Truth" is a hilarious comedy, that holds up extremely well. One can see why this screenplay won an Oscar, and many of it's actors/actresses nominated as well.
Cary Grant and Irene Dunne portray a well-to-do New York couple, Jerry & Lucy Warriner,who divorce because they have lost their trust in each other. Cary becomes upset when Dunne gets stranded when her car breaks down, and gets a ride with her flirty French voice teacher, Armand Duvalle. When they see the judge about who gets their Asta: look-a-like dog, Mr. Smith, Dunne by sneakily using a squeaky toy, gets the dog to come to her, but Cary still gets visitation!
On his visitation days, Jerry (Cary) manages to slyly put seeds of doubt in a humorous way about Lucy's new beau, Daniel 'Dan' Leeson (Ralph Bellamy), who is the simple, country Texan oilman, whose lifestyle in Texas is radically different from what Lucy is accustomed to. He seems to be a bit of a mama's boy as well, who travels with his protective mother, Mrs. Leeson (Esther Dale). Ultimately, Jerry inadvertently helps to finish off her impending mismatched marriage to this country boy, while taking care of personal business with the music teacher, in a rather funny sequence of events.
Lucy (Dunne), however, realized before this disastrous
chain of events mentioned above, that she really does love Jerry
(Cary), and couldn't possibly marry the Texan, and wants to mend
things with Jerry. However, her music teacher gets in the way
in her apartment, after she asks him to tell Jerry that nothing
romantic had happened between them. He hides in her bedroom when
Cary arrives suddenly, but his black hat remains. She tries to
hide it, but the dog keeps retrieving it. Dunne tries to convince
Cary that this too big hat was really his, which he momentarily
believes. When it looks like they both want to try to work things
out, the Texan and his mom are at the door, so Cary hides - in
the same bedroom that the music teacher is in. Fireworks happen
that dash this near make up, as well as end the prospect of Lucy's
unwanted marriage to the Texan.
This hilarious screenplay was written by Arthur Richman, who also wrote the original stage play, that was a huge hit on Broadway. Vina Delmar also helped on the screenplay. Sidney Buchman was also an uncredited writer, who later wrote the screenplays to "Here Comes Mr. Jordan," and "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington."
The stellar direction was by the immensely talented, multi-Oscar winner, Leo McCarey, who won a Best Director Oscar for this film. Throughout his long and successful career, he worked with such people as Laurel and Hardy, The Marx Brothers, Eddie Cantor, May West, W.C. Fields and Harold Lloyd. He had a marvelous gift for story telling, from crazy comedies to sentimental tales.
This movie is so well directed, well written, well paced and well acted that it is a timeless screwball classic comedy. I recently saw this film in an intergenerational audience, from teenagers - to people in their 70's and everyone just roared. Everything comes together to give us a priceless jewel of a comedy.
If you enjoyed THE AWFUL TRUTH, you may like MY FAVORITE WIFE, DUCK SOUP, SIX OF A KIND, BELL OF THE NINETIES, THE MILKY WAY, BRINGING UP BABY, MY MAN GODFREY, WHAT'S UP DOC?, EMMA, CLUELESS, and/or YOU'VE GOT MAIL