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A Damsel in Distress [DVD]

4.2 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Fred Astaire, George Burns, Gracie Allen, Joan Fontaine, Reginald Gardiner
  • Directors: George Stevens
  • Format: Dolby, PAL
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: U
  • Studio: Odeon Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: 18 July 2011
  • Run Time: 100 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0051NGUP0
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 60,292 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

First UK DVD release of this 1937 musical comedy from RKO Pictures. Nice work if you can get it! Fred Astaire glides through this effervescent comedy of confused courtship, written by master humorist PG Wodehouse. Fred stars as Jerry Halliday, an American in England who's lured to Tottleigh castle by a love letter from lovely Lady Alyce Marshmorton (Joan Fontaine). But it wasn't actually Lady Alyce who wrote the letter and what's more she's set her heart on someone else! Determined to win her hand, Jerry goes a-wooing if only his helpful staff didn't keep making his life so difficult. Featuring some of George Gershwin's finest songs (I Can't Be Bothered Now, Things are Looking Up), A Damsel In Distress is one of Fred Astaire's funniest and very best loved films. Oscar winner in 1938 and Oscar nominated. Extras include: Photo Gallery

Review

Astaire without Rogers but the style is the same * --Halliwells Film Guide

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: VHS Tape
From 1933 with Flying Down to Rio to 1939 with The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle, Fred Astaire made 10 movies. All except one had him partnered with Ginger Rogers. By 1937 he decided he wanted a break, and the result was A Damsel in Distress. Who was his new partner? Well, he didn't really have one. The closest in the film would be George Burns and Gracie Allen. Joan Fontaine, who was the love interest, simply doesn't register strongly. Probably deliberately, Astaire chose Fontaine because she couldn't sing and couldn't dance. She was the antithesis of Rogers. At 20, she was sweet, shy and attractive. She makes a pleasant love interest, but the movie works as well as it does because of Astaire, Burns and Allen, and some great George and Ira Gershwin songs.

Lady Alyce Marshmorton (Fontaine) met an American she thinks she loves, but her mother is having none of it. Lady Marshmorton is determined Alyce will mary Reggie, a proper British twit. She's keeping Alyce closely watched at the the family manse, Tottleigh Castle. But Alyce runs off to London with the family's butler, the obsequious Keggs (Reginald Gardiner) in pursuit. In London, Alyce meets Jerry Halliday (Astaire), a famous American dancer who has been promoted into a heart throb by his publicity agent, George (George Burns), assisted by George's secretary, Gracie (Gracie Allen). One confusion leads to another, with Jerry, George and Gracie arriving at Tottleigh Castle. Then there are misunderstandings, reconciliations and leaps from a balcony. Things aren't helped by a pool set up by Tottleigh Castle's servants to pick who will eventually win Lady Alyce's hand. Kegg and a young houseboy, Albert, are determined each of their own candidates will be the winner and win the pot for them. They take turns stirring the pot.
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The great pleasure of A Damsel In Distress is that it offers a break from the norm for both us and Fred Astaire. After about seven consecutive flicks with Ginger Rogers (F&G) and often the same supporting cast, doing the same silly romantic comedies, he decided on an entirely different kind of silly comedy romance, delightful and irritating in new ways.

This time, Fred is an American dancer invited by happenstance to woo an aristocratic young lady, Alyce (Joan Fontaine) because the staff at her father's castle have a sweepstake going on who she will marry, Lady Caroline's choice or the mystery American Alyce is in love with (not Fred, but the butler and the errand boy think he is). Fred's, or rather Jerry's, pursuit of Alyce is supported and thwarted by the staff, by Alyce, even by her father Lord Marshmorton, until all comes right at the end.

Fred's comedy back-up comes from George and Gracie, the latter provoking some laughs from her eternal witless misprision. The best dance numbers have all three dancing together, and although Fontaine manages one limited routine with Fred in the woods - on a muddy slope, can't have been that easy! - there's no big romantic duets for the leading man and lady. Instead, we get some lovely songs like "Nice Work If You Can Get It", as well as the beautifully photographed "A Foggy Day". I for one applauded the scene where the opera-loving butler suddenly performs an aria in the garden, Fred listening with bemusement from inside. The funhouse dance sequence bagged an Oscar.

'Stuffy Brits learn how to swing it': that must have been the pitch. Joan Fontaine's Alyce is a more confident character than you might anticipate but it's easy to see where her typecasting as the nervous shy heroine might have sprung from.
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One of the greatest and funniest dance scenes, with the marvelous Gracie Allen at the fun fair. Many wonderful dance scenes and a funny script. A real pleasure.
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While the story (by P.G. Wodehouse) is good, in that old 30's tradition, and there are some great songs by the Gerschwins in it, the actual copy, because it is not remastered, is very grey and the clever words aren't always easy to pick up. I'd like there to have been subtitles so that I could hear some of the jokes, but there weren't - an oversight.
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I purchased it basically for the tap dancing scene by FA when he plays the drums with his feet...unreal to say the least.
It's worth watching just for that scene but if you like FA & GR or just wonderful dancing then you'll love this old time film.
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Having seen a number of Fred Astaire's films, this is my favourite to date; I was entranced. The storyline evokes an impression of "Downton Abbey" meets the Marx Brothers, with Fred being the kingpin who links the action together, whether romantic or comedic. George Burns and Gracie Allen provide some genuine belly-laughs with their repartee, with Allen getting most of the best lines - "My, my, how old-fashioned! Horse-whipping a man in this day and age when they could run over him with an automobile!" - and the scenes where they dance with Fred are scintillating - all three of them just look to be having so much fun, it's impossible not to want to join in.

Joan Fontaine is at her demure best but shows some uncharacteristic feistiness - which sits well on her - in the scene where she gets annoyed at Fred, when he doesn't understand that she's in love with him.

There are some fine comedic interludes from the supporting cast but naturally it's the great man himself who takes command of the film, even when he's not on screen. It doesn't matter whether Fred's leading lady can dance or not because when he takes to the floor, all eyes are on him anyway. The guy had that rare gift of being able to combine romantic lead with comedy, and in the scene on the hall stairs, where Lady Alyce rejects him, he displays that trusting vulnerability (reminiscent of Stan Laurel), which makes him so endearing and has us rooting for him from start to finish.

The dance routines, especially Fred's "drum solo" toward the end of the film, perfectly display the athleticism, innovation, musicality and style of the man - and Fred was never less than perfect.
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