The Awful Truth: Hers & His Perspectives
For the third installment in our 2023 Classic Couple Movie Challenge, we offer our take on The Awful Truth (1937).
Cary Grant has been in my top five list of actors for many years. I remain steadfast in my appreciation for his acting and my enjoyment of his films. My Cary Grant is the best romantic comedy lead there ever was, and likely ever will be.
The Awful Truth stands out in Cary Grant’s filmography as his breakout movie. It’s in this movie that audiences first glimpse the leading man to come, the one who will entertain with exceptional wit and a comic style uniquely his own. As philandering husband Jerry Warriner, Grant is charming and lovable despite the fact that he’s playing a philandering husband who projects his own bad behavior onto his wife, resulting in their path to divorce.
As wife Lucy Warriner, Irene Dunne gives an amazing performance as the woman done wrong who can’t help but still love her rascal of a husband. And while Grant is something to behold in the film, Dunne is enthralling. A few actresses in Old Hollywood sparkled. Dunne is one of them with a fire in her eyes that lights up every scene. She’s got great comic timing and wins you over to her side as the couple faces the awful truth of their relationship.
Grant and Dunne are incredibly well matched in The Awful Truth. Nowhere is this more evident than in the last scene, which is just plain sexy. Worth the entire picture, in my view.
The Awful Truth is an opportunity to appreciate Cary Grant as a comic actor. For me, the standout scene in the movie is when he breaks in to what he thinks is a romantic tryst, which turns out to be a salon concert performance by his wife. Here we see Grant’s early days as a Vaudeville acrobat in full force. From his “jiu jitsu” antics with the butler to his wrestling match with a chair, the physicality of Grant’s comedy is on full display in this scene. It’s laugh-out-loud good acting.
Contrast that scene to the final one with Dunne, which I agree with Kam is just plain sexy, and you’ve got 1930s movie magic.