logo2.jpg
   A DAMSEL IN DISTRESS (1937) 

[Get the Poster]

CAST
Fred Astaire
George Burns
Gracie Allen
Joan Fontaine
Reginald Gardiner
Ray Noble
Constance Collier
Montagu Love
Harry Watson

DIRECTED BY
George Stevens

PURCHASE





Time: 98 mins.
Rating: Not Rated
Genre: Musical/Comedy/Romance


SYNOPSIS: An American entertainer finds himself ensnared in the love troubles of a young heiress whose Aunt is trying to force her to marry against her will and whose servants – who have a wager on the whom the eventual groom will be ‐ connive to have their choice come out the winner.

BOTTOM LINE: The only difference between the plot of this film and most other Astaire vehicles is the obvious absence of Ginger Rogers. After seven films together I guess they needed a break, but the strength of her personality and presence on the dance floor are sorely missed here. This film is still fairly entertaining it just doesn't have that great romantic spark found in his pairing with Rogers. Astaire has talent and charm for days, which helps keep this light as air story moving happily along. Burns and Allen, who provide most of the film's laughs, are a true marvel. Their reputation as one of the best comedy teams of all time is showcased hilariously here. Gracie is a real treat and George is the perfect straight man as well as a hell of a dancer. Who knew?

While Fontaine pulls off the loveliness and flightiness of a young heiress she doesn't have the energy or comedic sensibilty to hang with this crowd. One can understand Fred wanting a change from dancing with Ginger, but they could/should of found someone who could at least carry a tune and move their feet in time. Gracie Allen isn't the best dancer either, but her enthusiasm and ability to do physical comedy more than makes up for her lack of precision. There's no real charisma between the lead lovers, which is sort of a problem for a romantic comedy. In fact, the last musical number should have our young lovers dancing in one another's arms. Instead, Fred is dancing with a drum set. While a unique and energetic number, it's not exactly the most appealing finale considering the genre.

The story may be nothing special, but the music – by George and Ira Gershwin – and dance numbers – especially the ones including Burns and Allen – are superb, making this trifle more fun than it has a right to be. They have nothing to do with the plot, but you won't really care. Gardiner and Watson also deserve praise for their roles as the conniving servants, who will do anything to win the bet, even break their mistress's heart. With employees like these, you don't need enemies. While the film focuses on getting the lovers together and tearing them apart it's appealing and funny. When the lovers are together, it's stilted and awkward. Not his best work, but Astaire/musical fans will be amused enough.




"Jerry, don't be so pessimistic. Maybe she'll still be in trouble when we get back."

home | reviews | actors | actresses | film heaven | all reviews