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Film / The Awful Truth

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Daniel "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?
Daniel "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 Screwball Comedy is the third film version of Arthur Richman's 1923 play of the same name. It was directed by Leo McCarey and stars Irene Dunne and Cary Grant as Lucy and Jerry Warriner, a bickering married couple. The supporting cast includes Ralph Bellamy, Alexander D'Arcy, Cecil Cunningham, Molly Lamont, and Esther Dale.

Jerry comes home from a mysterious trip (the film never says where he actually went), and lies, saying that he went to Florida on business. At home, he finds Lucy in the company of her music teacher under suspicious circumstances. After Lucy finds out Jerry lied about going to Florida, they file for divorce.

The divorce decree is granted, to be effective in 90 days, and both Lucy and Jerry move on to other romantic partners. However, they still have to decide who gets custody of Mr. Smith, their dog. This winds up bringing Jerry and Lucy together again, and romantic sparks fly.

Nominated for six Oscars, only one of which it won (Best Director for Leo McCarey). Placed in the National Film Registry. Not to be confused with the Awful Truth trope.

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.
  • Country Mouse: Dan doesn't care much for New York City and he can't wait to return to Oklahoma.
  • "Dear John" Letter: When Lucy decides to break off her engagement with Dan she prepares a letter for him explaining why. However, Dan ends up getting this letter after he and Lucy have split up.
    Dan: I certainly learned about women from you.
    Aunt Patsy: [hands Dan the letter] Here's your diploma.
  • Disposable Fiancé / Romantic False Lead: Two of them, both disposed of in spectacular fashion.
    • Ralph Bellamy had a nice career in the 1930s 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.
    • Jerry and Barbara when they are racing a speedboat together.
  • 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.
  • Let Him Choose: How the custody of Mr. Smith is determined. Lucy wins by procuring a dog toy from her purse.
  • 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). When Lucy does her own version later, she mimes the skirt-blowing effect.
  • Momma's Boy: Dan Leeson. Despite being a successful businessman he still lives with his mother and frequently seeks her approval.
  • 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: The film's final Fade Out.
  • Sucks at Dancing: Dan. Not for a lack of enthusiasm, mind you...
  • 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 asks, "What else can happen to us?". Cue the police sirens.
  • That Came Out Wrong: "That's right, Armand, no one could ever accuse you of being a great lover."
  • Tickle Torture: Jerry to Lucy from behind a door, as Lucy's both trying to hide him and trying to keep a straight face as Dan recites a cornball love poem to her.
  • 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 jealousy.