A young man falls in love with a girl from a rich family. His unorthodox plan to go on holiday for the early years of his life is met with skepticism by everyone except for his fiancée's eccentric sister and long-suffering brother.
Before their divorce becomes final, Jerry and Lucy Warriner both do their best to ruin each other's plans for remarriage, Jerry to haughty socialite Barbara Vance, she to oil-rich bumpkin Daniel Leeson. Among their strategies: Jerry's court-decreed visitation rights with Mr. Smith, their pet fox terrier, and Lucy doing her most flamboyant Dixie Belle Lee impersonation as Jerry's brassy "sister" before his prospective bride's scandalized family. Written by
Paul Penna <email@example.com>
'The Awful Truth' just came out on DVD and what a treat! I'd never seen it before. It's sort of a first draft of 'My Favorite Wife' (remade as 'Move Over Darling') and has all the patented screwball-romantic comedy-French farce elements of the 'Palm Beach Story' but in a less sophisticated form. Even though 'The Awful Truth' may have established a formula for all subsequent screwball comedies, let's face it, it's still rude and crude around the edges. But it probably was the 'There's something about Mary' of its time and Leo McCarey apparently got an Oscar for Best Director. Its gags and dialogue are at times so unexpected as to be termed "experimental". The movie is really all about the sexual tension between Cary Grant and Irene Dunne, married partners who wilfully dissolve their marriage over the husband's possible infidelity (barely alluded to) and his lack of confidence in his wife's virtue (a.k.a. jealousy). But this being 1937, sexuality has to be expressed in devious, contrived ways, including the occasional gratuitous slapstick. The Swiss clock ending is worth the price of admission in this respect. As is Cary Grant's date's obscene nightclub performance and his martial arts irruption into a society afternoon recital where his wife (Dunne) is singing an Italian aria that none of Grant's pratfalls can interrupt, except for one, memorable, epoch-making, anthology-ready second and a half towards the end that no other (singing) actress could have pulled off. What one has to remember, I guess, is that none of this nonsense had ever been attempted, seen or done on a screen before and it must have seemed terribly daring and innovative, thanks to the complicity and high spirits of a perfect cast, including Gee-shucks cowboy Ralph Bellamy, irrepressible faux-French charmer Alexander D'Arcy and worldly aunt Patsy (Cecil Cunningham). Irene Dunne, as usual, is a total original, and, by the way, Katharine Hepburn copied her comedy style and not the other way around (check your dates, guys).
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