THE AWFUL TRUTH
USA | 1937
90 min. | 35mm
LACMA | Bing Theater
Cary Grant and Irene Dunne spar as Jerry and Lucy Warriner, well-to-do imminent divorcees waiting out the final days of their marriage—a legal cooling off period during which the two can’t help but heat things up. Bound only by their shared custody of Mr. Smith, their adorable fox terrier (played by Skippy, aka Asta in the Thin Man series), they each, nevertheless, plot to undermine the other’s attempt to start anew with someone else (Ralph Bellamy for her, Molly Lamont for him) right up until the clock strikes midnight. Grant and Dunne share brilliant timing and rapport in the first of several on screen pairings that helped cement their iconic screen images but also vaulted The Awful Truth into the screwball pantheon. Pratfalls and witty jabs abound in equal measure with later reports suggesting that much of the film’s comedy was improvised on set, a creative cauldron that director Leo McCarey was comfortable stirring up having started out in silent comedy at Hal Roach Studios. Grant, however, initially resisted the approach, even offering Harry Cohn $5,000 to be released from the picture, but no trepidation can be discerned in one of the most charming comic turns of his career. McCarey won the first of his two Academy Awards for Best Director for The Awful Truth (he won the other for Going My Way in 1944) with Dunne and screenwriter Viña Delmar (Make Way for Tomorrow) each receiving nominations for their contributions.
Preservation funding provided by Sony Entertainment.
Preserved at the UCLA Film & Television Archive. Restored in cooperation with the Library of Congress Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound division from a 35mm nitrate print, a 35mm nitrate composite dupe negative, and the 35mm nitrate original sound track negative.
Laboratory services by Triage Motion Picture Services. Sound services by Audio Mechanics, DJ Audio, YCM Laboratories. Special thanks to: Grover Crisp, Jeremy Frieze, Tony Munroe, Paul Rutan, Jr., Ken Weissman.