40 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 »


George Stevens


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




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


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


By George, they're Gracier than ever...in this tune filled, girl thrilled, rousing show!. See more »


Comedy | Music | Romance


Passed | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


Fred Astaire was so impressed by the work of Joe Niemeyer on this picture that he hired him as his stand-in, a role he would fulfill for the next twenty years. See more »


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


Carnival Barker: Step up, ladies and gents! Step up. This way for the World of Joy which includes the Tunnel of Love! All for the price of six pence the half part of a shilling.
See more »


Featured in George Stevens: A Filmmaker's Journey (1984) See more »


Ah! Che a Voi Perdoni Iddio (Ah! May Heaven to You Grant Pardon)
(1847) (uncredited)
from "Martha"
Music by Friedrich von Flotow
Libretto by Friedrich Wilhelm Riese
Performed by Reginald Gardiner dubbed by Mario Berini
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User Reviews

RKO Gershwin dance-fest
22 December 2004 | by didi-5See all my reviews

Fred's first film for a while without Ginger was a money-loser for RKO, and it is easy to see why. The main problem is the lacklustre playing of young British actress Joan Fontaine, out of her depth in a film that requires her to be both alluring and a fitting dance partner for Astaire. That she is no dancer is made clear by George Stevens's ham-fisted direction of their one duet, using trees as bad camouflage for her lack of skill.

Aside from a fitting leading lady, though, there's quite a few things that keep you watching. Fred Astaire has some fine solo dance pieces to do, especially using percussion instruments. There's a lot of interplay with the talented comics George Burns and Gracie Allen, too, which lifts the pace a lot. One section has the three of them ending a Fun House trip by dancing in the Hall of Mirrors.

There's a good Gershwin score, including such gems as 'Nice Work If You Can Get It', and there's even an opera-loving butler, whose obsession comes to a head in a hugely enjoyable piece of humour. But 'A Damsel in Distress' is ultimately let down by the damsel, who doesn't measure up!

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Release Date:

19 November 1937 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Damsel in Distress See more »


Box Office


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

Company Credits

Production Co:

RKO Radio Pictures See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Victor System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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