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A Damsel in Distress (1937)

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There is something oddly static...
Wednesday, June 22, 2022

There is something oddly static about this self adaptation of P.G. Wodehouse's comedy romance. Joan Fontaine is "Lady Alyce" an heiress who casually meets visiting dancer/composer Fred Astaire ("Jerry") on a trip to London. Their romance is soon smouldering (well, as much as anything actually smouldered in 1937), much to the chagrin of her well-to-do family at their ancestral "Tottney Castle". Aided and abetted by George Burns, his press man ("George") and Gracie Allen ("Gracie"), his secretary - who offer an efficient if not terrific foil for the slightly obvious gags - he persists in pursuing his love. The dancing, almost all of which is performed en seul by Astaire - illustrates well his skill and the quality of the Gershwin's score, but somehow his solo performances just don't really engage. It's not just that there isn't a Ginger Rogers, it's that there is anyone at all. The briefest of scenes with Fontaine...

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