The Awful Truth (1937)

The Awful Truth

“Bittersweet and strange / Finding you can change / Learning you were wrong”—Beauty and the Beast

I loved The Awful Truth. I loved the dog. I loved the chemistry between Jerry and Lucy (Cary Grant and Irene Dunne), even when the characters couldn’t see it themselves. Most of all, I loved how a movie made in 1937 made me laugh. Let’s be honest here, most of the time when we say a movie this old is funny, we’re just trying to be polite. The awful truth is that this script is like a wedge of cheddar cheese; its humor gets sharper by the year.

The plot is about a couple who decide it’s time for a divorce after questioning each other’s fidelity. After rushing into rebound relationships, however, they regret this decision and sabotage the new relationships so they can get back together.

A few favorite moments: when the lawyer is on the phone trying to convince the couple not to get a divorce while his wife screams for him to come to dinner in the background; when Jerry toasts to his wife’s new relationship and all he can think of is to dryly say that it “doesn’t even make sense”; when a mechanical clock shows you, in a totally G-rated way, everything you need to know about the sexy ending of the story.

But let’s move onto the movie that’s really been on our minds lately: Beauty and the BeastI know this movie is going to do well because my three male roommates and I—totally outside the target demographic—rushed to the theater to see it on opening night. On a not-so-unrelated note, good call on casting Emma Watson, Disney. As I clutched my ICEE, popcorn, and Reese’s Pieces, I was swept away into the musical magic of my childhood.

My favorite lyric in the movie is, “Learning you were wrong” from the title song. As a general rule, I hate being wrong. Maybe this feeling is a product of the times, since we live in an age where we have to win every argument in the comments section of a Facebook post. But in the song, I don’t feel stressed or angry at all when Mrs. Potts sings about being wrong. Instead I feel happy goosebumps. Is it possible that there’s a lost art to being wrong?

Unfortunately, when we learn we were wrong in daily life, we don’t always see it as a positive thing. We are sometimes wrong about where we parked, what time an interview was scheduled, or (like the couple in The Awful Truth) bigger things like relationship choices. That being said, I believe with all my Mickey Mouse heart filled with pixie dust that it’s possible to re-learn how we respond to these situations of wrongness. It all starts with saying, “Hey, I know I was wrong, but now I appreciate what’s right a little bit more.”

That’s exactly what happens to Jerry and Lucy in The Awful Truth. The time spent away from each other causes them to realize they were still the perfect match all along. The only “beast” in this movie is their puppy…and I was sure glad he didn’t turn into a prince at the end.