Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

The Awful Truth


Guest reviewer for The Alpo Movie Review, by Rin-Tin-Tin VIII.

Here’s a movie that makes a few more strides in the acceptance of canine-Americans into the film industry, but is still plagued by the usual shortcomings. It stars Skippy, the famous wire-haired terrier. Skippy’s humans are Henry and Gale East and the Weatherwax Brothers, and he first appeared brilliantly playing the role of Asta in The Thin Man. Remember that one? Woof woof! More fun than rolling around in doo-doo. He reprised the role and did even better in After the Thin Man, but then he fell victim to the institutional stereotyping so endemic in Hollywood, being replaced by Skippy “lookalikes” in the next five Thin Man movies. It is so unfair! Would they use lookalikes for, say, Katherine Hepburn or Humphrey Bogart? He managed to eke out a career, mostly uncredited, in movies such as The Lottery Lover (as Pom Pom) and The Big Broadcast of 1936 until landing this plum role of Mr. Smith. It’s a very demanding and moving performance. You’ll watch in awe as he shows his mastery of sit, stay, sit up, jump, and even hide-and-seek. His barking is eloquent and, in some scenes, relentless. The audience I saw it with was barking along with him, compulsively. WARNING: At the end there is a terrible, repulsive black cat, so this movie may not be appropriate for your puppies. Still, when all is said and done, this is a movie whose butt you’re going to want to sniff more than once! (Oh, yes, it also stars humans Cary Grant, Irene Dunne, and Ralph Bellamy, who are probably quite funny, even though Mr. Grant on several occasions hides or fails to deliver the treat he is tempting Jerry with.)

(SECOND REVIEW) One of the all-time best screwball comedies, starring Cary Grant and Irene Dunne. They divorce early in the picture, and spend the rest of it realizing how much they need each other and getting back together. That’s the main story, but what struck me this time was Ralph Bellamy. He was the perennial second lead, the guy who wants the girl but is aced out by the male lead. Cary Grant did it to him twice, here, and in one of my favorite movies, His Girl Friday. In that one they even made a joke of it. Cary is describing the character to someone: “He looks like that actor fellow, what’s his name? Ralph Bellamy.” He played that sort of role many times, a good-hearted but rather thick fellow, normal, sweet, having no charisma at all, from some place out in the sticks, a great catch for some woman who’s looking for security but obviously not as the husband for sophisticated Irene Dunne or hard-driving Rosalind Russell. He was apparently just that sort of sweet guy in real life, but he had a hard core. As president of Actor’s Equity in New York he successfully fought off the un-American traitors in Congress who were blacklisting people in Hollywood. Good on you, Ralph!