Film: The Awful Truth

'Dan' Leeson: Are you sure you don't like that fella?
Lucy Warriner: Like him? You saw the way I treated him, didn't you?
'Dan' Leeson: That's what I mean. Back on my ranch, I got a little red rooster and a little brown hen and they fight all the time too, but every once in a while they make up again and they're right friendly.

Released in 1937, this is the third film version of a play by Arthur Richman. It stars Irene Dunne and Cary Grant as Lucy and Jerry Warriner, a divorcing couple who go to great lengths to interfere in each others' love lives. Nominated for six Oscars, only one of which it won (Best Director for Leo McCarey). Placed in the National Film Registry.


This film provides examples of:

  • The Alleged Car: The incident between Lucy and her music teacher which let to the divorce. Lampshaded by Lucy, saying that the car was very old to begin with, but Jerry doesn't believe her story.
  • Amicably Separated: With a pinch of BST.
  • Battle Butler: The music teacher has one. Jerry learns this first hand.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Between Lucy and Jerry for 95% of the film.
  • Breakup Makeup Scenario: Lampshaded by Dan when giving the analogy of a rooster and a little hen on his farm.
  • Comedy of Remarriage: Except that the couple is only almost divorced.
  • Disposable Fiancé / Romantic False Lead: Two of them.
    • Ralph Bellamy had a nice career in the '30s and '40s playing handsome, polite men who never got the girl. This time, he's Dan Leeson, an Oklahoma oil baron who grows fond of Lucy.
    • Then after Bellamy exits, Molly Lamont plays Barbara Vance, Jerry's rather shrewish fiancée.
  • Driving a Desk: Some unconvincing shots of the Warriners being driven down a country road and then getting lifts from two cops on motorcycles.
  • Formally Named Pet: Mr. Smith, the Warriner's dog, who is the catalyst for getting them back together (they are disputing custody).
  • Fourth Date Marriage: Typical Thirties trope. Dan falls in love with Lucy very quickly and wants to marry her after a couple of dates. She hesitates.
  • French Jerk: Lucy's music teacher, whom Jerry finds very irritating. Jerry believes that Lucy is having an affair with him.
  • Good Times Montage: With Barbara and Jerry enjoying themselves in different locations. Could also be seen as a one-sided Falling in Love Montage.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Everyone seems to fall victim at some point.
  • Hypocrite: Lucy's lawyer tells her that "marriage is a wonderful thing" while yelling at his wife to shut up and stop nagging him about dinner.
  • Longing Look: Lucy is giving these to Jerry during the movie's climax.
  • Love Epiphany: Lucy has one.
  • Loyal Animal Companion: Mr. Smith.
  • Lying Finger Cross: Jerry does this behind his back where only Lucy can see it while he's waxing poetic about her wonderful fidelity to Dan.
  • Malicious Slander: From Mama Leeson, who spreads rumors that Lucy was sleeping around on Jerry in order to discourage Dan.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Lucy turns into this for the movie's third act.
  • Marilyn Maneuver: The basis of a nightclub act (much to Jerry's embarrassment, as he was on a date with the nightclub singer in question).
  • My Beloved Smother: Dan's mother takes an entirely too active interest in his love life, actively discouraging his relationship with Lucy. In the end, he decides his mom was right.
  • My Girl Is Not a Slut: Dan's reaction to the rumors (see Malicious Slander above).
  • Not What It Looks Like: Over and over again.
  • On The Rebound: Aunt Patsy advices Lucy not to go down that path.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Ralph Bellamy's country accent comes and goes.
  • Playing Drunk: Lucy, in order to embarrass Jerry at the Vance house.
  • Pretty in Mink: Lucy wears a few furs like a white fox coat, and a Persian lamb coat and muff (which she hides a dog toy just to mess with Jerry).
  • Rich in Dollars, Poor in Sense: Lucy thinks this of Barbara Vance.
  • Sexy Discretion Shot / Getting Crap Past the Radar: The film's final fade-out.
  • Tempting Fate: Jerry's "Nothing's going to hurt me anymore." is prompting the piano to come down on his hand.
    • Happens again in the car. Jerry: "What else can happen to us?" — cue Police sirens.
  • That Came Out Wrong: "That's right, Armand, no one could ever accuse you of being a great lover."
  • Vehicular Sabotage: Lucy engages in some, sending her own car into a ditch in order to force Jerry to spend the night in the cabin with her.
  • When the Clock Strikes Twelve: The divorce decree becomes final at midnight.
  • Where Were You Last Night?: Jerry expects to find Lucy home when he returns. She's not. It all goes downhill from there.
  • Worst News Judgment Ever: Jerry and Barbara's love life conveniently making the newspapers, giving more fuel to Lucy's jelousy.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Probably. Given the way censorship worked in The Thirties, they can't come out and say Jerry cheated on Lucy. It's heavily implied, though, when Jerry lies about being in Florida and no explanation is given as to where he really is.Note  Similarly, Lucy insists that she didn't sleep with the music teacher, but said teacher's comments kind of sound like they did, and the scene where they discuss it is vague.