Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

The Awful Truth (1937)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

The Awful Truth (1937)

In director Leo McCarey's great screwball comedy - one of the best of all time:

  • the divorce proceedings of a couple: Lucy (Irene Dunne) and Jerry Warriner (Cary Grant), to take effect after a 90-day waiting period - and the settlement of one final matter in the courtroom: a custody battle over their dog Mr. Smith or "Smitty" (Asta of the Thin Man series); with the fox terrier dog present in the court, the "final decision" of custody was left up to the dog who was placed equi-distant from them and caught in a dilemma - with calls and pathetic entreaties from both sides for the dog's affection, Mr. Smith swiveled his head back and forth between his two owners, and eventually jumped in Lucy's lap when tempted by its favorite squeeze toy (a Chihuahua's head)
  • the sequence of Jerry hiding behind Lucy's apartment door as she greeted her neighbor-suitor, Oklahoma native Daniel Leeson (Ralph Bellamy) who read her a sugary love poem he had written ("Oh, you would make my life divine If you would change your name to mine") - while Jerry tickled her in the side with a pencil as she listened and tried to maintain her composure
  • the disruption scene of Jerry barging in on Lucy's vocal recital and accidentally tipping back in his chair and noisily falling to the floor
  • the nightclub scene when the couples accidentally turned up with separate dates: Lucy with Dan, and Jerry with singer Dixie Belle Lee (Joyce Compton)
  • the sequence often known as the "two men in a bedroom farce" regarding dual derby hats and their clever dog "Smitty" - when both Lucy's French singing teacher and love interest Armand Duvalle (Alexander D'Arcy) and Jerry had arrived at her apartment and were kept separated; the dog - in a game of hide and seek, persistently kept retrieving and bringing out Duvalle's incriminating derby hat from behind a flower arrangement and a mirror where Lucy had stashed it; Lucy struggled to conceal its whereabouts behind the couch; as Jerry was leaving, he put on what he thought was his derby hat - but the over-sized hat descended down over his ears; quizzically, he looked at himself in another mirror: "Well that's funny, I only bought the hat an hour ago and look at it"; she suggested: "Did you have a haircut, maybe?...Well, maybe you had it on backwards. Put it on the other way around... it is a little roomy, but maybe they're wearing them that way this year"
  • the scene of Lucy pretending to be Jerry's drunk sister at the home of his new fiancee, heiress and debutante Barbara Vance (Molly Lamont) - and Lucy's rowdy rendition (with uplifted skirt) of a vulgar nightclub routine and song, My Dreams Are Gone With the Wind, in order to sabotage Jerry's relationship
  • the image of the stranded couple being transported on cops' motorcycles in evening dress
Couple on Cops' Motorcycles
Connecting Bedrooms in Cabin
Reunited Cuckoo-Clock Figurines: Metaphor
  • and the final connecting-bedrooms scene in her Aunt's rustic cabin, where the door between their rooms had a weakened and faulty latch and kept opening (on their last night before the 90 day waiting period expired)
  • the metaphoric sexually-tinged, suggestive image at the film's fade-out of reunited, male and female cuckoo-clock figurines (stand-ins for Lucy and Jerry) entering the same opening, after the two had reconciled and realized "the awful truth" that they were irresistible to each other

Mr. Smith ("Smitty") - Tough Custody Decision in Court

Jerry's Hiding Behind Lucy's Door - While Daniel Reads Love Poem to Lucy

Jerry's Tipped Back Chair During Vocal Recital

Awkward Nightclub Dates

The "Two Men in a Bedroom" Farce with Two Derby Hats

Lucy's Vulgar Nightclub Routine


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