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A Damsel in Distress (1937)

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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 »

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Won 1 Oscar. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
...
...
Reginald Gardiner ...
Ray Noble ...
...
Montagu Love ...
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 »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

19 November 1937 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Demoiselle en détresse  »

Box Office

Budget:

$1,035,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Victor System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

During the part of the "Stiff Upper Lip" number that takes place on a turntable, Fred Astaire and Gracie Allen perform the dance variously known as the "runaround," the "nut dance" or the "oompah trot." Consisting of the dancers moving in a circle and doing walking steps in strict rhythm, this dance had been a trademark of Astaire and his sister Adele on stage. But Astaire didn't do it in a film before this because he didn't think Ginger Rogers was right for it. See more »

Quotes

Gracie: [Gracie answers the telephone] It's a Hawaiian.
George: A Hawaiian?
Gracie: Well he must be. He says he's Brown from The Morning Sun.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Muppet Show: Madeline Kahn (1977) See more »

Soundtracks

I Can't Be Bothered Now
(1937) (uncredited)
Words by Ira Gershwin
Music by George Gershwin
Song and dance performed by Fred Astaire
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Fontaine in distress...but there are compensations...
29 April 2005 | by (U.S.A.) – See 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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