The Awful Truth (1937)

<strong class="MovieTitle">The Awful Truth</strong> (1937)

(On Cable TV, May 2018) Considering that The Awful Truth is the movie that created Cary Grant’s comic persona, we should be grateful for its existence and for director Leo McCarey’s instincts in guiding Grant toward his vision of the role. This is a late-thirties screwball comedy that practically exemplifies the sophisticated and urbane “Comedy of remarriage” so characteristic to the years following the introduction of the Hays Code: Here we’ve got Grand and co-star Irene Dunne as an unhappily married couple that decides to divorce, then sabotage each other’s new affairs before realizing that they are each other’s best partners. (Try not to think too much about the liberties allowed to only the very rich people in the 1930s.) It’s decently funny—maybe not as much as other later efforts from Grant, but still amusing, and Dunne has good timing as well. (Plus Skippy the dog!) Divorce has rarely been so much fun. The comedy isn’t just about the lines, but the physical performances of the actors and their interactions—read up on the improvisational making-of imposed by McCarey to learn more about how the picture was shaped by on-set ideas and follow-up. If I didn’t already know how much I love screwball comedy, The Awful Truth would have taught me.

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