6.8/10
1,745
39 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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Did You Know?

Trivia

When Fred Astaire learned that Gracie Allen was nervous about dancing with him on-stage, he reportedly made a point of tripping and falling in front of her the first day on the set to put her at her ease. 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

Jerry Halliday: [singing and dancing] My bonds and shares, May fall downstairs, Who cares, who cares? I'm dancing and I can't be bothered now!
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Connections

Featured in Great Performances: The Fred Astaire Songbook (1991) See more »

Soundtracks

Sing of Spring
(1937) (uncredited)
Words by Ira Gershwin
Music by George Gershwin
Performed by Madrigal Singers
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User Reviews

The ever-enjoyable Fred Astaire meets Burns & Allen in this hidden treasure
2 March 2011 | by jimjo1216See all my reviews

Fred Astaire, George Burns, Gracie Allen, Joan Fontaine. A DAMSEL IN DISTRESS (1937) may seem like a curiosity piece, but it's really a great, lesser-known movie. It's a fun comedy/musical in the vein of the Astaire/Rogers films of the decade. You can't really go wrong with a Fred Astaire movie, particularly from the black & white days. Astaire was so likable and charming on-screen. He was great at comedy, he could carry a tune, and brother could he ever dance.

The romance plot is set up with Astaire playing an American dancer traveling abroad and Joan Fontaine playing a young noblewoman who doesn't want to marry the eligible bachelors at home. The two meet and through a series of misunderstandings, Fred comes to believe that Joan is in love with him. She isn't at first, but if you've seen enough of these light-hearted Hollywood rom-coms, you know what happens. Fontaine's servants have bets on who she will marry, and they try to influence the romantic outcome in their favor.

George Burns and Gracie Allen are comedy legends. They're not known for their feature films, but they really sparkle in this one as Astaire's sidekicks. Their comedy bits are golden and they even join Fred for some dancing.

The rest of the supporting cast is great, particularly Reginald Gardiner and Montagu Love. Joan Fontaine, very early in her career, is absolutely lovely.

The music is from George and Ira Gershwin and is pretty good, if not as memorable as some of the music from the Astaire/Rogers flicks. I recognized "Nice Work If You Can Get It" and "A Foggy Day". There are a few wonderful dance sequences, including a wildly inventive fun house scene with Astaire, Burns, Allen, and a crowd of extras. There's also a tremendous solo routine where Astaire tap dances and plays a drum set-- with his feet.

I caught this gem on TCM and I'm glad I did. I'm a huge Fred Astaire fan and this movie fits right in with his others. Plus it's got the added comedic bonus of George Burns and Gracie Allen. The movie is a lot of fun and it's got a nice little love story. It's time well spent if you're a classic movie fan. I just wish this forgotten treasure was more readily available.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

19 November 1937 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Damsel in Distress See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,035,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

Production Co:

RKO Radio Pictures See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Victor System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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