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A Damsel In Distress (1937)

Fred Astaire , George Burns , George Stevens  |  NR |  DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Fred Astaire, George Burns, Gracie Allen, Joan Fontaine, Reginald Gardiner
  • Directors: George Stevens
  • Format: NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Warner Archive
  • DVD Release Date: November 2, 2011
  • Run Time: 100 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0058KCMF8
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #97,156 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Fred Astaire sails across the pond to meet damsel in distress Joan Fontaine and delightful (if unlikely) dance partners George Burns and Gracie Allen in a musical co-scripted by master wit P.G. Wodehouse and directed by George Stevens (Swing Time). The helium-light story concerns servants running a betting pool on the marriage prospects of a fetching aristocrat (guess who wins her hand). The elegant George and Ira Gershwin score includes two standards forever associated with Astaire, A Foggy Day and Nice Work If You Can Get It, plus one of Hollywood's cleverest song-and-dances: the Academy Award(r)-winning* Fun House number, which sends Astaire, Burns and Allen cavorting among chutes, mirrors, moving floors and rolling barrels.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Just enjoy it - please! January 12, 2001
Format:VHS Tape
This is one of the most delightful movies, and it preserves the flavor of Burns & Allen. Since we have so little film of Vaudeville, this movie shows us what we missed. The wiskbroom routine surely came from the stage, and the dialogue between Gracie and George and Fred surely came from the stage. Come on folks. Don't compare this film with Ginger and Fred. Its not supposed to be like Top Hat. I personally like Damsel more than Swing Time which doesn't feature enough dancing in the first hour. Sure Joan Fontaine is lost but she's only 19!! Look where she went from here. Get the movie, pop the corn and relax. This is a feel good, just dang fun movie, and you'll be happy you saw it.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A comic gem overlooked! March 27, 2006
Format:VHS Tape
There are several things of importance about this film. Most's George Gershwin's LAST COMPLETE score. He did write 1 more song for 38's GOLDWYN FOLLIES but never completed it (Ira Gershwin and Vernon Duke did.....OUR LOVE IS HERE TO STAY) but A DAMSEL IN DISTRESS is choc a bloc with gags and songs and great comic performances. Fred Astaire really seems so much more at ease here than with his former dance partner Ginger Rogers. The storyline is bright and breezy and filled with great character actors Constance Collier,Ray Noble(yes, the British band leader),Reginald Gardner and Harry Watson.The charming if wan Joan Fontaine but most importantly George Burns and Gracie Allen at the top of their game....GB:(criticizing Gracie for her forgetfulness) "Gracie, sometimes I think that their's nothing up here" (indicating his brain)to which Gracie replies: "Ah George , you're self conscious!"

The Gershwin songs are some of his best...A FOGGY DAY, NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT,I CAN'T BE BOTHERED NOW and STIFF UPPER LIP

Burns and Allen and Fred Astaire have two dynamite dance numbers as a trio......most impressively is the "fun house" sequence which contains bits from his Broadway days with sister Adele...take note of the "Swiss Miss" section in the fun house! It's the closest thing to actually seeing Fred and Adele Astaire actually dance on film. Point of interest: Adele had retired from the stage and had refused to team up with Fred in films because she met and married British nobility and retired to live in Britain before the start of WWII.

Hermes Pan is credited with the dance direction but you can see Fred Astaire's mark all over the film.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The #1 Fred Astaire movie... September 5, 1999
By Ryan
Format:VHS Tape
Well, that's my opinion. Sure, it was his first to lose money. But that's because the 1937 public had a hard time accepting the genius of a man without Ginger. This film contains great solo dancing by Astaire, and for comical dancing he is joined by George Burns and Gracie Allen. We'll just leave out that outdoor dance he did with Joan Fontaine, though the song was a beaut. We see Astaire pounding away on the drums in every way imaginable for "Nice Work if You Can Get It", avoiding the bobby with "I Can't be Bothered Now", and spending time with George and Gracie in a fun house during "Stiff Upper Lip." Those songs, by George and Ira Gershwin are legendary. "Nice Work if you can Get It" is first sung by a madrigal choir that Astaire introduces to swing. "Things are Looking Up" is a romantic tune Astaire delivers to Joan Fontaine. We also hear "A Foggy Day," George Gershwin's last completed score is a can't miss. Pick this one up as soon as you can. You won't forget Gracie Allen's hilarious line: "Well, I don't blame him, if I were Art I'd object too."
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Why can't we have this movie? December 9, 2008
A Damsel in Distress [ NON-USA FORMAT, PAL, Reg.2 Import - France ] This movie has always gotten short shrift (though how many long shrifts have you ever seen?), primarily because Ginger Rogers isn't in it and Joan Fontaine is. So? Does every Fred Astaire movie have to have Ginger Rogers in it to be good? (Answer: No) Is Joan Fontaine relatively weak and poorly cast? (Answer: Yes) So what do we have?

We have Fred Astaire, being as brilliant as he always was. We have Burns & Allen at perhaps their best. We have on film Gracie dancing, which is a rare treat in and of itself. We have Ray Noble, a bandleader/actor/songwriter, who doesn't turn up all that often in films. And let us not forget one of the best things: a brilliant score by George & Ira Gershwin. And face it, folks: they didn't write all that many movie scores. How can we dismiss a movie that introduced to the world such masterpieces of The Great American Songbook as "A Foggy Day," "Nice Work If You Can Get It," "I've Got Beginner's Luck," etc.? (1937 was the the year the Academy made one of its most notorious and shameful blunders by giving the Oscar for Best Song to "Sweet Leilani," a thoroughly forgettable ditty sung by Bing Crosby in HAWAIIAN WEDDING...and it wasn't even written for the movie! Gershwin never in his lifetime received even a nomination for the brilliant and timeless classics he wrote for his few films.)

So...the big question: Why is this movie not available on DVD in the USA? We get a French import that's in the wrong format. This is as much a slap in the face as that Oscar for "Sweet Leilani"! Come on, whoever has the rights to the RKO library this week: get on the ball and let us have this film. And don't skimp on the extras, either! Give us retrospectives and trailers and featurettes on the Gershwins at the movies and everything else that this movie deserves...that WE deserve!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, Old-Fashioned Romantic Comedy
While some of this movie's humor would be considered corny by today's standards, much of the movie is funny and entertaining. Read more
Published 3 months ago by megassoter
5.0 out of 5 stars A Damsel in Distress
This is a MUST for Fred Astaire fans! No collection should be without the music and talent of this great movie!
Published 4 months ago by bobolink
5.0 out of 5 stars Burns & Allen teach Fred how to dance??
My comment above was made by George Burns in his typical dry style; this film actually lost money for RKO as the audience was probably expecting Ginger. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Joseph M. Welnack
5.0 out of 5 stars Cleverly my Favorite!
Probably my Favorite of Fred Astaire's movies! Gracie Allen and hubbie George Burns compliment Fred and each other! Quippish and Clever... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Suzette Spilsbury
5.0 out of 5 stars Gershwin Songs Highlight
Gershwin Songs highlight this whimsical, musical romp. Highlights the romance between a baroness and commoner. With Joan Fontaine and Fred Astaire...
Published 6 months ago by H. Fenton
5.0 out of 5 stars A Damsel in Distress
This a very nice, rare musical starring Fred Astaire and the very young Joan Fontaine before she became famous in other movies.
Published 7 months ago by Julia A. Davis
4.0 out of 5 stars Dancing, music fun!
A very fun movie to watch, altho wish it was a DVD. Still enjoyed it very much. Watching Gracie Allen do the dance in the fun house is worth the price!
Published 7 months ago by movie lover
4.0 out of 5 stars A fun movie showcasing Gracie and George as well as Fred and Joan
With P. G. Wodehouse as a main writer, this film is filled with clever lines and silly gags, and with the Gershwins as composers, it is also a delight to listen to the music --... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Theresa M. Kenney
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Astaire Film
Some critic reviews show this is one of Fred Astaire's least popular movies. I am not a great Ginger Rogers fan, so I disagree with them. Read more
Published 9 months ago by J. Greene
4.0 out of 5 stars Lots of Fun and a great Gershwin score
PG Wodehouse, Burns and Allen, Fred Astaire and a great George Gershwin score. . . "who could ask for anything more"!! Read more
Published 9 months ago by John Feather
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