"A Woman of Distinction" is a very enjoyable comedy romance. Rosalind Russell, as Dean Susan Middlecott, is the consummate career professional woman of the mid-20th Century. Ray Milland, as Professor Alec Stevenson, is a renowned British scientist who is visiting New England for a series of astronomy talks. This is a few years after WW II, and both served in Europe during the war. Neither is looking for romance or marriage. Susan is adamant about not having or needing a man. To the point of being an iceberg, as her father, Professor Mark "J.M." Middlecott says (played by Edmund Gwenn). Alec isn't turned off to women or marriage – he just isn't actively pursuing a mate.
That's the setting, and the story of how these two come together makes for a wonderful plot. It's different from the type of comedy romance that was all too frequent during that era. It isn't a comedy of dialog alone, or of pratfalls, or of antics or crazy doings. It is a mix of all of those. The script has some witty and clever quips. The pratfalls are in the form of hilarious happenings to Susan and Alec, individually and together. The mishaps are all the more funny because of the proper and uppity social positions of the characters. And, a nice touch throughout the film, is their reactions. They seem to take them in stride and show their human side. The pacing of these incidents is perfect, with silly lines or very funny mishaps occurring at short intervals.
Through it all, does love bloom? Watch to see, and you won't be disappointed. All of the cast in this film give wonderful performances. And, there is a nice cast of supporting players beyond the three main roles. The setting has some scenes of elegant living, New England homes, and commuter train travel. About the only people I can imagine who wouldn't enjoy this flick would be misandrists, misogynists, those who hold political correctness as a god, and those who have no sense of humor.
It' a good enough movie to be part of my permanent film library. This film is a lot of fun throughout. Lucille Ball has a funny cameo appearance early in the film. Here are some funny lines to further whet one's appetite. They are all the more funny in the settings.
Susan, "Tea and toast! Is that all you ever eat?" Alec, "Blood rare!"
J.M., "Oh, Susan, dear, just a minute. You don't want to leave without your weapon."
Susan, "Well, why don't you get on?" Alec, "It's a girl's bike." Susan, "Try side saddle."
J.M., "It's too bad that two nice people, like you, who should get together, get together and then don't get together." Alec, "Well you see, your daughter isn't very get together-able. One might say she's a bit of an icicle." J.M., "You know what the Greek philosophers say about icicles? Today's icicle may be tomorrow's hot water."
Susan, "Oh, what beautiful flowers. Did you grow them?" Louisa (her five-year old daughter played by Mary Jane Saunders), "No, mommy. They grew themselves right outside."
Teddy (played by Janis Carter), "Education's a wonderful thing. No school should be without it."
Susan, "We're happy aren't we? Just the three of us?" Louisa, "I think we'd be happier if we adopted a husband."
Susan, "I'm not any older than any other woman my age."
J.M., "No, you look like a woman but that's where the resemblance ends. You talk like an encyclopedia. You think like a dictionary. You're, uh
Telephone operator, "Hello, Earl, this is Pearl. Hello, Merle, this is Pearl."
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