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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
"I am a great teacher, not a great lover." "That's right, Armand. No one could ever accuse you of being a great lover."
on 17 May 2011
Although rarely revived and oft overlooked when discussing the classic screwball comedies of the 30s despite being selected for the National Film Registry in 1996, The Awful Truth is still as delightfully funny as it was when it garnered five Academy Award nominations and won Best Director for Leo McCarey in 1937 even if today it's more romantic than risqué. Cary Grant and Irene Dunne are one of those sophisticated couples with enough money to live in a mansion and enough time on their hands to worry about each other's possible infidelities until his double standards and unfounded suspicions lead to the divorce court. While they're waiting for it to become final she gets involved with Ralph Bellamy's country bumpkin oil millionaire and he, granted visiting rights to the couple's dog Mr Smith (played by Asta from The Thin Man series), does his utmost to embarrass her only for both to realise they still really love each other - only for petty jealousies, misunderstandings and each trying to get revenge by breaking up the others' new relationships to complicate matters. All of which is exactly as you might expect, but it's executed with real wit and panache, never overplaying its hand and as comfortable with a pratfall as with a smart one-liner. Vina Delmar's screenplay from Arthur Richman's play is terrific, but adding immensely to the fun is a wondrous display of reaction shots - embarrassment, bemusement and even occasional horror - from Grant (who was convinced during shooting he was making a complete turkey), a great Oscar-nominated comic turn from Bellamy, not to mention some fun setpieces like Mr Smith constantly fetching a gentleman caller's hat that Dunne desperately wants to stay hidden. It's all so fresh that it's a surprise to find out it was actually the third of four screen versions. Great stuff.
Sadly no extras (apart from trailers for His Girl Friday and Little Women).