The Awful Truth

1937

The Awful Truth

Critics Consensus

Great comic direction by Leo McCarrey and memorable onscreen chemistry from stars Cary Grant and Irene Dunne make this screwball comedy a charmer.

93%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 28

87%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 7,591

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Movie Info

This screwball comedy is filled with merry mix-ups and romantic misadventures that lead previously happy couple Jerry and Lucy Warriner to divorce. The trouble begins when Jerry supposedly goes to Florida for some rest; actually, he is planning to spend the vacation with his buddies.

Cast

Cary Grant
as Jerry Warriner
Irene Dunne
as Lucy Warriner
Ralph Bellamy
as Daniel Leeson
Alex D'Arcy
as Armand Duvalle
Cecil Cunningham
as Aunt Patsy
Molly Lamont
as Barbara Vance
Esther Dale
as Mrs. Leeson
Joyce Compton
as Dixie Belle Lee
Robert (Tex) Allen
as Frank Randall
Robert Warwick
as Mr. Vance
Mary Forbes
as Mrs. Vance
Claud Allister
as Lord Fabian
Marguerite Churchill
as Barbara Vance
Zita Moulton
as Lady Fabian
Colton Scott
as Mr. Barnsley
Wyn Cahoon
as Mrs. Barnsley
Mitchell Harris
as Jerry's Attorney
Alan Bridge
as Motor Cop
Edgar Dearing
as Motor Cop
Miki Morita
as Japanese Servant
Vernon Dent
as Police Sergeant
Al Bridge
as Motor Cop
Bobby Watson
as Hotel Clerk
Byron Foulger
as Secretary
Bess Flowers
as Viola Heath
Ed Mortimer
as Lucy's Attorney
View All

News & Interviews for The Awful Truth

Critic Reviews for The Awful Truth

All Critics (28) | Top Critics (4) | Fresh (26) | Rotten (2)

  • This is Grant's first truly remarkable performance, morphing a romantic leading man into a suave, impish clown.

    April 12, 2018 | Full Review…
  • Leo McCarey's largely improvised 1937 film is one of the funniest of the screwball comedies, and also one of the most serious at heart.

    May 27, 2008 | Full Review…
  • Zappy, sophisticated screwball comedy with Grant and Dunne displaying perfect timing.

    June 24, 2006 | Full Review…

    Geoff Andrew

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • To be frank, The Awful Truth is awfully unimportant, but it is also one of the more laughable screen comedies of 1937, a fairly good vintage year.

    May 21, 2003 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • A wonderfully smooth blend of lively acting, bright dialogue, witty direction and hearty slapstick.

    July 19, 2019 | Full Review…
  • They are so captivating that without realizing it we willingly put ourselves in the position of a dog choosing between masters.

    November 27, 2018 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Awful Truth

  • Mar 12, 2018
    The story goes that director Leo McCarey told his actors to improvise in their comedy, and if it was good, he would use it. Cary Grant was skeptical at first, but then rolled with it. He's very good at comedy in addition to being the gold standard in debonair, and there were a few scenes in 'The Awful Truth' that had me laughing out loud. The most memorable is when he stands behind the door, and after getting bonked on the nose a few times, tickles Irene Dunne with a pencil as she listens to love poetry from her new beau (Ralph Bellamy). You see, Grant and Dunne are in the process of getting a divorce, after he "went to Florida" in order to be with another woman, and she was in a hotel with her voice teacher "because their car broke down". After fighting for custody of their dog, Mr. Smith (Skippy aka Asta), they continue to trade playful barbs and play mischief on one another, sabotaging their new relationships. The movie is full of clever dialog, banter, and general zaniness. It's a little harsh on Okies, showing the cultural divide has always been with us, but it's in funny (and hopefully non-offensive) ways. As cute as that all was, it was the final scene that really made the film for me. In an understated way, it's very sexy, with the tension having been built up from all Grant and Dunne's comments. It's clear they know each other perfectly, still love each other, and want each other. The idea they end up together will hardly come as a surprise, but the execution in that last scene is lovely, with a slow, almost teasing pace, and Dunne looking up at Grant demurely from her bed. McCarey won the Oscar for best director amidst several other nominations for the film, and while it's not the best of romantic or screwball comedies, it's very good, and well worth watching.
    Antonius B Super Reviewer
  • Aug 25, 2016
    There's something so charming about 1930's screwball comedies. Innocent, energetic, and gracefully acted all around, The Awful Truth is a great showcase of Cary Grant and Irene Dunne's chemistry while presenting a bittersweet love story along the way. One of my favorite films of all time is Bringing Up Baby, which is famously a screw ball comedy. And I think Cary Grant's best performance is in Penny Serenade, where he shares the screen with Irene Dunne. So take the screwball tone of Bringing Up Baby and the duo of Penny Serenade and you have The Awful Truth. Luckily, it does not disappoint. The 30's was a much more innocent time for Hollywood filmmaking. Directors hadn't really dug deep into the more somber overtones of the 40's, and I think this contributed to The Awful Truth's charm. Even with that said, it's not a complete romp. In fact, the dramatic elements of Grant and Dunne's incoming divorce gave the film a dramatic end you don't want to reach. As you watch their character's attempt to tear each other's relationship's apart, you increasingly hope for a happy resolution to this bittersweet story. Just like Bringing Up Baby, The Awful Truth has its ridiculous gags and laugh out loud moments. To me, a comedy's ultimate test is how well it holds up over time. If a film that's turning 75 years old next year can still pull laughs out of a 22-year-old single guy, I think it's done its job. It's full of ideas ahead of its time, chemistry for days, and brilliantly timed comedic gags. You can't really ask for anything else out of a comedy. +Grant & Dunne +Mature but widespread appeal humor +Pleasantly charming 8.4/10
    Thomas D Super Reviewer
  • Jul 28, 2013
    Perhaps "The Awful Truth" is not the great screwball comedy it's reputation suggests (there are a number of pacing issues), but this is still a enjoyable little farce. Irene Dunne's performance is a thing of comedic genius.
    Alec B Super Reviewer
  • Sep 05, 2010
    I enjoyed this movie, great cast, good story, and it's funny.
    Aj V Super Reviewer

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