"Art makes life, makes interest, makes importance"

September 12, 2011

"The Awful Truth" (1937) (Film review)

Unfounded suspicions lead a wealthy married couple from Manhattan (Cary Grant as Jerry Warriner and Irene Dunne as Lucy Warriner) to begin divorce proceedings. After that, they both start undermining each other's attempts to find new romance, Jerry to a haughty socialite, Lucy to an oil-rich bumpkin from Oklahoma. The point is: they still love each other and we all know how that will end. This screwball comedy was directed by Leo McCarey, who received an Oscar.

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Funny elements in The Awful Truth are Jerry's visitation rights with their fox terrier and Lucy's impersonation of Jerry's low-life "sister" to scandalize the family of his prospective bride.

This comedy is still watchable, but not more than that, I felt, and after recently seeing again several Ozu films, I now know why. In these Hollywood productions, everything is plot. Actions and events speed the film along, but there is no time for character development. There is even no time to get to like any of the characters. They all left me cold and therefore, in the end, the story as well. The whole thing is very mechanical, and devoid of human feeling. At the same time, ideologically, it is a rather obvious propaganda piece for monogamy. Think what Ozu would have made of this premise...