The Awful Truth Reviews
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.
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