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Film Review: “The Awful Truth” (1937)


Leo McCarey was one of the most interesting directors during the Golden Age of Hollywood. His films such as An Affair To Remember with Debra Kerr and Cary Grant, and The Awful Truth with the same Grant and Irene Dunne, ended up in the AFI`s 100 Greatest Love Stories of All Time. He is among an elite group of seven directors who have won Best Picture, Best Director and Best Screenplay. And now, for the first time after seeing The Awful Truth (1937), I better understand the signature of McCarey and why his films were so sensitive, funny, extraordinary, and so unique. Because he always knew how to write the story, deliver a wise dialogue with a bit of humor, and there was no one better to direct the cast of his films.

Lucy (Irene Dunne) and Jerry Warriner (Cary Grant) accuse each other of a breach of faith and begin divorce proceedings. But, everything is not as easy as it looks. The judge gives the couple sixty days before they are officially divorced, which should not be a problem since they have already agreed to end the marriage. But, that is not the case with Lucy and Jerry who still love each other, and do everything possible to interfere in each other’s  new personal lives, which creates hysterically funny situations…

It`s hard to believe that this film, made back in 1937, is funnier than ever. It begins with Jerry, who comes back from his L.A trip, while his wife thinks he was in Florida. But, while Jerry was on his personal mission in L.A, Lucy does not waste time either and goes concerts and parties with her music teacher. When Jerry finally gets home to his wife, he is surprised she is not there. Being trustful, Jerry can`t imagine that his wife was with someone else. Without any arguments or conflicts, Jerry and Lucy agree to file for divorce. Believe it or not, by the time you get to the trial scene, you will find yourself laughing non-stop.

There was not a single scene in The Awful Truth which you will find not funny or to be boring. It`s an absolutely hilarious screwball film about two couples that are deeply in love, but at some point, don`t know how to express it. Knowing this is what makes this film absolutely unique, remarkable and in the meantime, so simple to watch. The dialogues are flawless and absurdly funny. The chemistry between the charming Cary Grant and the extravagant Irene Dunne, is something that can`t be found in very many films. It is amazing to see how Grant and Dunne manage to perform their parts so well, that after you finish watching this film, you will find yourself wanting to re-watch it over and over again.

The Awful Truth is an absolute classic; an incomparable film that will never get old for so many reasons. It must be seen by anyone who admires Cary Grant`s work. It tells such a beautiful story of love through two people, who despite their divorce process, still can`t live without each other. This is an instance of pure comedy that won`t let you go until you get what you want. It`s a platinum cinematography masterpiece that is like a fine wine- it gets better with age.

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