The Awful Truth Response

15 Sep

The Awful Truth (1937) centers on the troubles and adventures of a divorcing couple, Jerry and Lucy Warriner, played by Cary Grant and Irene Dunne. Over the course of the film, both try to make each other’s love lives as difficult as possible, interfering with the other’s romantic encounters to make any potential relationships a complete disaster. After Jerry alienates Lucy’s fiancé Daniel and Lucy reciprocates by scaring Jerry’s fiancée Barbara, Lucy and Jerry drive up to Lucy’s Aunt’s cabin, where they realize they are still in love and decide to give it another try.


Lucy Warriner is portrayed as both weak and strong in different parts of the movie. Her weakness is especially apparent around Daniel; she clearly feels awkward with the way he expresses his love for her, such as serenading her, or writing poetry. It’s also evident that she is uncomfortable about moving away from New York City to a small town in Oklahoma, where Daniel insists they will live when they marry. The relationship as a whole brings her nothing but misery, while Daniel is head-over-heels in love with her. But all of this changes when Lucy finally takes charge and pulls a crazy stunt to get Jerry back; she crashes Barbara’s party where Jerry is, impersonating Jerry’s sister. All evening she purposely embarrasses and shames Jerry by acting like a fool and making Jerry look unappealing to Barbara; she then has Jerry drive her up to her Aunt’s cabin, but before arriving, gets them pulled over and pushes the car into a ditch so that Jerry can’t drive home and has to spend the night with her. This elaborate scheme works to her advantage, as they get back together at the cabin. Jerry, on the other hand, has a much less dramatic change in strength as a character; he is consistently the driver in his own life, never submitting to anyone else’s will. His strength is evident throughout the entire beginning and middle of the story; he kills Lucy’s relationship with Daniel, and manages to score himself a well-to-do lady for himself. At the very end, however, he is overpowered by Lucy, and tricked into coming to her Aunt’s cabin to reconcile things with her. In the beginning of the film, Jerry was the more dominant one in the relationship, but by the end, it was Lucy.


While marriage isn’t depicted as an oppressive institution in the film, neither is divorce. The Awful Truth depicts both as horrific if they are with the wrong person, but not as a whole. In terms of class dynamics, the film primarily deals with the rich, upper class. They represent this class by the extravagant costumes with elaborate details, such as feathers, sequins, top hats, and handkerchiefs. Jerry and Lucy are members of this class, with seemingly no hard work involved, making them both seem immature, lazy, shallow, and over-privileged. This suggests that screwball comedy works best with characters the audience is likely to feel “deserve it,” so that people will laugh instead of feel sympathetic when ridiculously terrible things happen to the characters. Perhaps at the time these types of movies were made, it was more socially acceptable or even encouraged to laugh at others’ misfortune.


2 Responses to “The Awful Truth Response”

  1. lordbyrne September 18, 2012 at 3:14 am #

    Natalie, you only need to do one critical paragraph. You’ve done two here. And while the two critical paragraphs kind of make an argument, in both you do an either/or, which means you don’t really take a side and argue it. Instead of Lucy is both weak and strong, at different points, try arguing one or the other. Same with marriage isn’t oppressive, and neither is divorce. Pick one. 9/10. JB.

  2. lordbyrne September 18, 2012 at 3:15 am #

    And you’re still responsible for a response post for 42nd Street. Don’t forget, unless you want to forfeit the grade for that assignment. JB.

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