5 Things That Make a Screwball Divorce Suit – The Awful Truth (1937)


Screwball comedies are often described as “comedies of remarriage”, as it was a recurring topic in the heyday of the genre. The Awful Truth also revolves around a couple (played by Cary Grant and Irene Dunne) who are on their way to fall in love again. However, first you have to divorce your partner before you can remarry them. This movie presents a rare example of a screwball divorce suit and proves that there’re certain things which can turn even the courtroom’s peace into chaos. Here they are!

  • 1. An absurd request

Complications will most certainly arise when the couple begins to fight over their dog’s custody. Misunderstandings are inevitable if its name is Mr. Smith, so everyone, including the judge and the lawyers, will definitely be confused.

  • 2. A talkative wife

Talkative wives (and husbands) are often entangled in lengthy  stories about their first meeting with their partners, even if they’re about to talk about something else. Sometimes they go as far as telling it to the judge in the middle of their divorce suit. It’s possible that the judge is bored to death, so he will try to cut the story short. Of course, that’s not so very easy with a person who can’t stick to the point!

  • 3. An outrageous idea on the judge’s part

A judge can have some surprising ideas, too, especially when he’s trying to solve a surprising situation. I haven’t checked any cases of the past, but I find it quite improbable that a dog has ever had the chance to decide which of his masters he would like to spend the rest of his life with. So Mr. Smith is a lucky one!

  •  4. A dog incapable of making decisions

However,  Mr. Smith is a dog that’s so very fond of both his masters that he can’t decide between them. On the other hand, he might also be one of those dogs that are not so good at making decisions.


  • 5. A cheating wife

If the husband lets his wife cheat, she will have the dog and in return he will have an excuse to pay her a visit twice a month! A screwball divorce suit will end with a remarriage after all!

courtroom-banner-witness-for-the-prosecutionThis is my entry for CineMaven’s and Second Sight Cinema’s blogathon, “Order in the Court!”. Check out their sites to have a look at some other posts!

Source of picture 4: The Blonde at the Film

20 thoughts on “5 Things That Make a Screwball Divorce Suit – The Awful Truth (1937)

  1. THIS is my gateway film for anyone who is interested in classic films and a film I would take on a desert island with me. I’m so glad you covered it. Thanks for joining Second Sight Cinema…and my Essays from the Couch with this classic of all classics!! :_


  2. The Flapper Dame

    Haha- great breakdown! I absolutely love this film- and this court room scene is so memorable because all attention goes to the Dog- gotta love it- Dogs are important!


  3. It’s been waaay too long since I’ve seen this delightful film, and the adorable Mr Smith.

    I’m always fascinated by Irene Dunne’s fashion accessories in the courtroom scene. I keep wondering if the fluffy pin? ball? on her coat is going to start crawling over her shoulder.

    This is a great post and a truly original look at The Awful Truth. 🙂


  4. This sequence is fantastic – and probably my favorite in the whole movie. Great post, and very well done.
    Don’t forget to read my contribution to the blogathon! 🙂


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