The Awful Truth

Introduction by Stanley Cavell
Screening on Film
Directed by Leo McCarey.
With Irene Dunne, Cary Grant, Ralph Bellamy.
US, 1937, 35mm, black & white, 91 min.
Print source: UCLA

A marital squabble leads Lucy (Dunne) and Jeff Warriner (Grant) to divorce in this classic screwball comedy of stubborn lovers determined to undermine each other's attempts at a new romance. Most remarkably, the pinnacle of McCarey's comic genius – and the supreme example of what Cavell calls "the comedy of remarriage" – was apparently largely improvised. While McCarey was comfortable with on-set improvisation from his days in silent comedy, it reportedly threw Cary Grant, at first. By the end of shooting, however, Grant's comic timing was spot on. Just as he took the team of Laurel and Hardy and made them icons, so McCarey took Archibald Leach the last crucial steps towards becoming Cary Grant. 

The Awful Truth introductions by Haden Guest and Stanley Cavell. ©Harvard Film Archive

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