MILEPOSTS #979

June 11, 2020

By Ken Brafman, Image from AMPAS Collection

Title: MOUNTAIN MOVIES: THE AWFUL TRUTH (1937): “Okay, America! IT’S SO FUNNY…IT HAS Hollywood hysterical…Broadway bellowing…Main St. mirth-quaked…Gopher Gulch guffawing…AND THAT’S THE TRUTH! So read one of the taglines for this must-see movie from 1937, voted one the 50 greatest comedies of all time in 2006 by Premiere Magazine. Our mountains have been the backdrop for scores of movie productions, going back to the early silent era. The Awful Truth comes from the Golden Age of Hollywood and falls into the class of screwball comedies. Before their divorce becomes final, Jerry and Lucy Warriner (Cary Grant and Irene Dunne) both do their best to ruin each other’s plans for remarriage; Jerry to haughty socialite Barbara Vance, she to oil-rich bumpkin Daniel Leeson. Among their strategies: Jerry’s court-decreed visitation rights with Mr. Smith, their pet fox terrier; and Lucy doing her best to sabotage Jerry’s chances with his prospective bride’s family. The director, Leo McCarey, won an Oscar for this film. He cut his teeth directing Hal Roach productions such as the Laurel and Hardy and Our Gang series. The chemistry between Grant and Dunne is magical. The supporting cast, made up of many veteran character actors, is stellar. Even the casting of “Mr. Smith” went to a veteran actor – to Skippy, the pooch who played “Asta” in the Thin Man series. Dunne had recently come off some successful comedy films; while Grant was poised to make the leap into superstardom. In his book Magnificent Mountain Movies Lee Cozad writes, “The Awful Truth is considered to be the movie that made Cary Grant the international superstar he became.” Principal filming took place at Columbia’s Gower Gulch Studios, with the Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear Lake areas used for locations. This week’s image is a real photograph of a scene where Grant and Dunne are en route to the Lake Arrowhead cabin where they flirt with having a reconciliation. The Awful Truth is the ultimate in cinema fun and is full of bright performances, and great writing. (And that’s the truth!)

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