One of the all time great comedies.
- The Awful Truth review by Steve Mason
Cary Grant is the greatest male comedy actor in pictures for my money and The Awful Truth represented a breakthrough in Hollywood. This is a comic showreel for him. His co-star Irene Dunne established herself as a star of screwball in this film.. Together they are dynamite as a couple who divorce and seek new partners but never find elsewhere that elusive chemistry, and inevitably drift back together, at first over the custody of the dog, but really for the elegance and wit, and finally for the sex.
Director Leo McCarey keeps the tone light and sparkling, but generates dramatic interest even though this is a very superficial story. Some of the situations and plot complications are inspired. Apparently he wrote most of the final script and got wonderful performances from his stars, largely through improvisation. The interactions are glorious.
This is a very risqué film and it is amazing that it got past the Hays Office. Maybe because it was so good! Grant and Dunne dominate the film and are prominent among the great sparring screwball couples, but Ralph Bellamy as Irene's suitor, an unsophisticated oil tycoon with a ranch in Oklahoma is outstanding too. It's perhaps surprising that this was such a big hit because the divorcing Warriners are so aloof that they look down on anyone who isn't a New York sophisticate. But they get away with it because of the charm of the leads.
Grant rousting the blundering Bellamy to the mortification his ex wife is hilarious, and Dunne matches his artful élan in a scene where she pretends to be his dipso sister to discredit him before his new prospective wealthy in-laws. The film never falters. Often a comedy which offers little other than humour can become tiresome, but thanks mainly to the great triangle of leads, this confection remains a consistent and compelling joy.
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