6.8/10
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37 user 17 critic

A Damsel in Distress (1937)

Passed | | Comedy, Music, Romance | 19 November 1937 (USA)
Lady Alyce Marshmorton must marry soon, and the staff of Tottney Castle have laid bets on who she'll choose, with young Albert wagering on "Mr. X". After Alyce goes to London to meet a beau... See full summary »

Director:

George Stevens

Writers:

P.G. Wodehouse (from the story by), Ian Hay (play) | 5 more credits »
Reviews
Won 1 Oscar. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Fred Astaire ... Jerry Halliday
George Burns ... George
Gracie Allen ... Gracie
Joan Fontaine ... Lady Alyce
Reginald Gardiner ... Keggs
Ray Noble ... Reggie
Constance Collier ... Lady Caroline
Montagu Love ... Lord Marshmorton
Harry Watson Harry Watson ... Albert
Jan Duggan ... Miss Ruggles
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Storyline

Lady Alyce Marshmorton must marry soon, and the staff of Tottney Castle have laid bets on who she'll choose, with young Albert wagering on "Mr. X". After Alyce goes to London to meet a beau (bumping into dancer Jerry Halliday, instead), she is restricted to the castle to curb her scandalous behavior. Albert then summons Jerry to Alyce's aid in order to "protect his investment". Written by Diana Hamilton <hamilton@gl.umbc.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Hold your heart and tap your toes! See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Music | Romance

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

19 November 1937 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Demoiselle en détresse See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,035,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

RKO Radio Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Victor System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

When Jerry, George, and Gracie drive to Lady Alyce's house, they are in a 1936 Cord 810 convertible coupe. With a MSRP at the time of 2,145 dollars (thirty-seven thousand dollars in 2016), such a car in 2016 could be worth up to three hundred thousand dollars depending on condition. See more »

Goofs

The letter Albert writes and the one Gracie reads later are written differently, although the same words are used. See more »

Quotes

Gracie: You know, if it weren't for two things you'd be a terrific dancer.
George: What's that?
Gracie: Your feet.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Hollywood Palace: Episode #2.16 (1965) See more »

Soundtracks

Stiff Upper Lip
(1937) (uncredited)
Words by Ira Gershwin
Music by George Gershwin
Song performed by Gracie Allen
Dance performed by Fred Astaire, George Burns, Gracie Allen, chorus
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Fontaine in distress...but there are compensations...
29 April 2005 | by DoylenfSee all my reviews

First of all, in defense of JOAN FONTAINE, it must be said that Ginger Rogers would have been terribly miscast as Alyce, the young British lady who has the title role. Fontaine makes a fetching picture as the heroine here, but her acting inexperience shows badly and her dancing is better left unmentioned. Fortunately, she went on to better things.

But here it's FRED ASTAIRE, GEORGE BURNS and GRACIE ALLEN who get the top billing--and they are excellent. Fans of Burns & Allen will be surprised at how easily they fit into Astaire's dance routines. Especially interesting is the big fun house routine that won choreographer Hermes Pans an Oscar. They join Astaire in what has to be the film's most inventive highlight.

Unfortunately, not much can be said for the slow pacing of the story--nor some of the stale situations which call for a lot of patience from the viewer. It must be said that some of the humor falls flat and the usual romantic misunderstandings that occur in any Fred Astaire film of this period are given conventional treatment. Only the musical interludes give the story the lift it needs.

Some pleasant Gershwin tunes pop up once in awhile but not all of them get the treatment they deserve. The nice supporting cast includes Reginald Gardiner, at his best in a polished comic performance as a conniving servant, Constance Collier and Montagu Love (as Joan's father mistaken as a gardener by Astaire).

It's a lighthearted romp whenever Burns & Allen are around to remind us how funny they were in their radio and television days. Both of them are surprisingly adept in keeping up with Astaire's footwork.

Director George Stevens makes sure that Joan Fontaine's hillside dance number with Fred is filmed at a discreet distance but clever camera-work cannot disguise the fact that she is out of her element as Astaire's dance partner, something she seems painfully aware of.


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