Sunday, August 14, 2011

What's so awful about the truth, anyway?

I've briefly mentioned the movie The Awful Truth several times, but never done a full length post about it. It's airing again tonight on TCM at 9:45 PM, so now is a good time to do so.

Irene Dunne and Cary Grant play Lucy and Jerry Warriner, a married couple who find that each of them have been telling little white lies to the other. Well, not so little; Jerry was supposed to be in Florida on a business trip but stayed in New York. When Lucy and Jerry figure out that the other's lies aren't so little, they wind up rushing into divorce court to end their marriage. The judge naturally grants the divorce, but by law, it won't be finalized for 60 days, no trip to Reno here. So, each of the two starts to date other people, but also realizes they're getting jealous of their former spouse for the people they're dating. Perhaps the two would have been better off not getting a divorce in the first place....

If they really would have been better off remaining married, they at least remember that they are still technically married, since the divorce decree still has a few weeks before it becomes final. And so this gives both of them the brilliant idea to try to break up any other relationship their former spouse might be having. Irene Dunne has started a relationship with Middle American businessman Dan (Ralph Bellamy), and you know that with a supporting character being played by Ralph Bellamy, that's not the man who's going to end up with the woman. But you probably could have figured that out already. Grant takes up with a nightclub singer to try to show his ex-wife that he's still got it, only to find out the singer is thoroughly incompetent. And then Grant tries to crash his wife's music recital, which let's just say doesn't go as expected.

The Awful Truth is one of those elegant comedies that don't seem to get made any more these days, or at least if they do, they don't get advertised to the extent of more lowbrow things like Hut Tub Time Machine (although I suppose the movie would have been quite different if the two leads could have just gotten in a hot tub and undone their divorce) or The Hangover -- even the characters' drinking back then was funnier. Bellamy is good as always in his supporting role, and the Warriners' dog is played by the same dog that played Asta in the Thin Man movies (at least the earlier ones; I don't know how many different Astas were used).

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