Saturday, August 23, 2008

Tonight's Movie: A Woman of Distinction (1950)

Alec Stevenson, a charming British astronomy professor (Ray Milland) on a lecture tour in the United States, meets A WOMAN OF DISTINCTION in the person of a rigid college dean, Susan Middlecott (Rosalind Russell). A press agent (Janis Carter) concocts a fictitious romance between Alec and Susan, and personal and professional chaos ensue.

The film veers sharply from unbelievable slapstick to nicely done quieter moments of budding romance between two mature, accomplished adults. Although the most exaggerated slapstick moments are not as enjoyable as the rest of the film, the strong cast makes the film worthwhile. Milland, in particular, simply lights up each scene in which he appears; watching his reactions and interactions with the other characters is great fun. The uptight career woman was a patented Russell role -- see previous reviews here of DESIGN FOR SCANDAL (1941) and TELL IT TO THE JUDGE (1949) -- but no one did it better.

Leonard Maltin writes in a 3-star review: "Minor but very enjoyable...energetic cast puts this over." I'm in agreement with his assessment.

The supporting cast includes Edmund Gwenn as Susan's father and Mary Jane Saunders as Susan's precocious adopted daughter, Louisa. Francis Lederer and Jerome Courtland are also in the cast. Lucille Ball appears in a cameo as herself early in the film.

Baseball fans may be interested to know that when Mary Jane Saunders grew up she married former Los Angeles Dodger Jay Johnstone. Johnstone had a reputation as a team comedian and has written several books on the humorous side of the game. Saunders' credits include SORROWFUL JONES (1949) with Bob Hope, FATHER IS A BACHELOR (1950) with William Holden, THE GIRL NEXT DOOR (1953) with Dan Dailey, and THE REMARKABLE MR. PENNYPACKER (1959) with Clifton Webb.

A WOMAN OF DISTINCTION was directed by Edward Buzzell. It was shot in black and white and runs 85 minutes.

This movie is available on video. It can also be seen on Turner Classic Movies.


Blogger Terri said...

I saw this not too long ago and liked it. I just adore Roz Russell though! I even got an autographed photo of her off ebay a few years back (My husband thinks I'm weird! LOL) Have you ever read her autobiography? Life is a Banquet. I think I liked her even better after I read it!

9:29 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

You are definitely a fan, Terri! I think that's great. I enjoyed her book very much. I have a memory of carrying a paperback copy around to read in my spare time at high school, LOL.

A biography came out a couple years ago which I'm interested in reading: FOREVER MAME. Have you read it yet? Other titles in this series were excellent so I'd like to check it out at some point.

Best wishes,

1:32 PM  
Blogger Ladytink_534 said...

Oh I love Russell! She's so funny.

5:43 AM  
Blogger Carrie said...

It's a cute certainly didn't hurt to have Ray in it ;0)

2:49 PM  

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