What Goes Without Seeing: Marriage, Sex and the Ordinary in The Awful Truth

David Macarthur


This paper offers a reading of The Awful Truth (Leo McCarey, 1937) in order to meditate further on Stanley Cavell's articulation of the themes of the ordinary and perfectionist marriage as exemplified in the genre of films he calls the Hollywood Comedy of Remarriage (which includes The Awful Truth) in Cavell (1981) and (1996). I explore different ways in which this film and the medium of film generally are capable of making the unseen visible: revealing the ordinary that is hidden behind its very familiarity; making available an awareness that we are unseen by the projected reality of film; and, in this film in particular, showing that this divorcing couple - whose marriage and sexual life are essentially off-screen - are as if married all along even while they pursue other love interests.


the ordinary; marriage; skepticism

Full Text: PDF

Go to Edinburgh University Press