A Damsel in Distress | Chicago Reader

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George Stevens's slow-burn style was hardly suited to the spontaneous glories of the 30s musical, but his highly developed sense of form and rhythm does find some interesting expression in the production numbers (the same principle often proved his downfall when applied to dramatic scenes). Fred Astaire stars; his then partner, Ginger Rogers, had demanded a vacation from the series and was replaced by Joan Fontaine, who does passably well under the circumstances. Burns and Allen were imported to balance her lack of humor; their presence is certainly welcome, and their work with Astaire is surprisingly effective—a marriage of vaudeville and Broadway. The score is by George and Ira Gershwin; P.G. Wodehouse worked on the script (1937).

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