A Damsel in Distress

With a script cowritten by P.G. Wodehouse and original songs by George and Ira Gershwin (including “Nice Work If You Can Get It”), there's no reason Fred Astaire's first starring vehicle without Ginger Rogers should've been the commercial flop it was. Joan Fontaine, the love interest, was a relative unknown at the time and couldn't cut it on the dance floor, so RKO brought in George Burns and Gracie Allen to share top billing with Astaire. The comedy duo had never danced onscreen before, but they match him step-for-step, and the three of them are a delight in “Stiff Upper Lip,” a comic production number set in a carnival funhouse. George Stevens directed this 1937 feature. 98 min.

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