Seen for the second time in July 2013.
Cary Grant's charisma is probably the one thing that separates classic screwball comedy from the insipid fare that passes for romantic comedy for the past 30 or so years. As great as Cary Grant is, he's still an underrated performer. I've heard him compared to George Clooney for example, but Grant towers over his imitators. I've never seen George Clooney pull a pratfall, much less pull a pratfull and still seem as though he's the most charming and sophisticated person on the entire planet. I've seen Cary Grant do that. I saw him do it in "The Awful Truth," which is a great movie, and probably the best of Cary Grant in the screwball era, though "His Girl Friday," isn't edged out easily.
It's interesting to me the snobbery that this film gets away with. Cary Grant and Irene Dunne's characters are both clearly well-educated and well-off and much of the humor in this movie is a result of them snidely turning their noses up at their less well-heeled brethren. Whether it's Bellamy's mid-American rube or the risque act of a working class dancing girl or even Dunne's imitation of such. I'm not sure how this stuff would play in today's political environment. I don't believe that a film of mass appeal made today would get laughs by appealing to an urbane sensibility's disdain for the masses.
"The Awful Truth" gets away with it nonetheless, I'm sure not just by having the carte blanche of being classic Hollywood, but also by being so goddamned relentlessly entertaining. Irene Dunn and Ralph Bellamy are at their best, and Cary Grant gives one of the all time most charismatic performances. Grade A.