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Irene Dunne, Cary Grant, Ralph Bellamy, Alexander D'Arcy, Cecil Cunningham ... see more see more... , Robert (Tex) Allen , Mary Forbes , Alex D'Arcy , Molly Lamont , Esther Dale , Joyce Compton , Claud Allister , Zita Moulton , Marguerite Churchill , Bess Flowers , Ed Mortimer , Edward Peil Sr. , John Tyrrell , Miki Morita , Robert Warwick , Edgar Dearing , Colton Scott , Wyn Cahoon , Paul Stanton , Al Bridge , Leonard Carey , Byron Foulger , Bobby Watson , Frank Wilson , Mitchell Harris , Vernon Dent , George C. Pearce

Leo McCarey directed this classic screwball comedy in which Cary Grant and Irene Dunne play Jerry and Lucy Warriner, a couple whose marriage is starting to fall apart. Jerry informs Lucy that he's tak... read more read a vacation alone in Florida; instead, he holes up with his buddies and plays poker for a week (while sitting under a sun lamp so he'll have an appropriate tan). Lucy concludes that Jerry was never in Florida just as Jerry discovers that Lucy was spending her time with Armand Duvalle (Alex D'Arcy), a handsome voice teacher. Both Jerry and Lucy believe the other was unfaithful, so they agree to a trial divorce, with a bitter battle fought over custody of Mr. Smith, the dog (Lucy gets the dog, but Jerry has visitation rights). Determined to make Jerry jealous, Lucy continues keeping company with Armand while also dating Daniel Leeson (Ralph Bellamy), a wealthy oil man from Oklahoma. Convinced that turnabout is fair play, Jerry starts going out with Dixie Belle Lee (Joyce Compton), a brassy nightclub singer, as well as socialite Barbara Vance (Molly Lamont). However, Lucy has belatedly decided that she wants Jerry back, and she hatches a plan to win him back by making a spectacle of herself at a party. The Awful Truth was based on a play which had been filmed twice before, but McCarey gave his superb comic cast free reign to improvise and add new business, and the results were splendid; you haven't lived until you've heard Irene Dunne attempt to sing "Home on the Range." ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

Flixster Users

88% liked it

7,374 ratings


91% liked it

23 critics

Unrated, 1 hr. 30 min.

Directed by: Leo McCarey

Release Date: January 1, 1937

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DVD Release Date: March 11, 2003

Stats: 513 reviews

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Flixster Reviews (513)

  • September 18, 2010
    I enjoyed this movie, great cast, good story, and it's funny.
  • March 19, 2010
    Cary Grant and Irene Dunn play a couple who rather impulsively decide to divorce and then spend the rest of the movie trying to undo their mistake while simultaneously undoing each other's new relationships. I'm not sure how taboo divorce was in their time, but the whole thing i... read mores played for laughs, with the two arguing over who gets custody of "mr. smith", their dog (who led to their first meeting). Actually, the dog is alot of fun, probably the best movie dog outside of Asta (the Thin Man's dog). What makes this film good is the chemistry Grant has with his leading lady (which he tends to have with every leading lady, which is a big part of what makes him so great). He not only plays a straight man to her hijinks, he also gets in some slapstick of his own.
  • December 31, 2009
    Reminded me of His Girl Friday, only older and much more tamer... Ralph Bellamy plays another dumb-witted moron while Grant plays the smooth, suave and debonair prince. Cute, but I still prefer His Girl Friday.
  • November 15, 2008
    I think I just have something against McCarey, because I usually love screwball and this is supposed to be the "definitive" one or whatever. Cary Grant is an excellent stock character who can just be dropped into a movie in a second and he can do this thing. Irene Dunne I hadn't ... read moreheard of before, and she's not too magnificent. She's not pretty at all, which shouldn't count but does, and lacks the chops to match up with Grant's automatic suaveness. The sister number was decently cute but never cut it with me. But I didn't HATE her or anything. I mean, it could be worse...she's not as bitchy or annoying as Maureen O'Hara in The Shop Around the Corner.
  • September 29, 2008
    Not my favorite Screwball comedy, but it will do in a pinch.

    Also featuring Asta from the thin man series!
  • July 10, 2008
    silly screwball with the ever charming cary grant and irene dunn. also asta from the thin man films! here known as mr smith. and it's still really funny ;)
  • December 30, 2007
    Imagine if you will, Irene Dunne out-Cary-Granting Cary Grant. There is a point, when we hit the motorcycle sequence, that I wish they'd reined her in a bit. If I'd edited, I'd have cut that entire sequence. But she is so darn good. What an actress. So smart she makes acting... read more dumb, as in the "sister" scene, look like a master class on dumbing UP : )
  • July 12, 2007
    by many judges one of the best of this genre. it does stand the test of time, so that says something, doesn't it?
  • fb721890245
    August 12, 2007
    I really am a big fan of Irene Dunne's and this is a very funny film even to this day. I am surprised to see that it hasn't been adapted to the stage more often.
  • fb20312798
    July 28, 2013
    Perhaps "The Awful Truth" is not the great screwball comedy it's reputation suggests (there are a number of pacing issues), but this is still a enjoyable little farce. Irene Dunne's performance is a thing of comedic genius.

Critic Reviews

Dave Kehr
May 27, 2008
Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader

Leo McCarey's largely improvised 1937 film is one of the funniest of the screwball comedies, and also one of the most serious at heart. Full Review

Geoff Andrew
June 24, 2006
Geoff Andrew, Time Out

Zappy, sophisticated screwball comedy with Grant and Dunne displaying perfect timing. Full Review

B.R. Crisler
May 21, 2003
B.R. Crisler, New York Times

To be frank, The Awful Truth is awfully unimportant, but it is also one of the more laughable screen comedies of 1937, a fairly good vintage year. Full Review

May 27, 2008

A joy. Full Review

David Nusair
April 10, 2007
David Nusair, Reel Film Reviews

...has earned its reputation as one of the most effective screwball comedies from the 1930s. Full Review

Emanuel Levy
November 9, 2006
Emanuel Levy, EmanuelLevy.Com

One of the best screwball comedies (of remarriage) ever made, based on the astute mise-en-scene of director Leo McCarey (who won an Oscar) and superb turns from Cary Grant and Irene Dunne as the sparr... Full Review

Kent Turner
February 17, 2006
Kent Turner,

The look of love [Grant] gives co-star Irene Dunne, captured not in a close-up but a medium-wide shot, could melt anyone. Full Review

Steven D. Greydanus
February 10, 2006
Steven D. Greydanus, Decent Films Guide

One should be rooting for Cary Grant to get the girl, which means he ought to deserve her — and if that's more or less the case here, well, it's only because the girl turns out to be no great sh... Full Review

Dennis Schwartz
January 7, 2006
Dennis Schwartz, Ozus' World Movie Reviews

A smart screwball comedy from the 1930s that's given the Lubitsch touch by director Leo McCarey. Full Review

Jeffrey M. Anderson
December 6, 2005
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Combustible Celluloid

Its sophistication convinced the Academy that it was more than "just" a comedy and they awarded McCarey the Best Director Oscar Full Review

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The Awful Truth Trivia

  • What film did Howard Hawks not direct?  Answer »
  • He gives an excellent comedic performance in "The Awful Truth".  Answer »
  • What 2 movies were Cary Grant given the nickname "Jerry the Nipper" at one point or another?  Answer »
  • I grew up in Flint, Michigan, and began my career making a tv series called The Awful Truth. I was booed off stage at the Academy Awards, and won an award at the Cannes Festival. Who am I?  Answer »

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