A Woman of Distinction, for The Rosalind Russell Blogathon

June 4th would have been actress Rosalind Russell’s 112th birthday.  In her honor, classic movie fan and blogger, Crystal at In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood decided to host a blogathon beginning on June 4th and running through June 6th.  Be sure to visit her blog to read other great pieces about Rosalind Russell and her career.

I’ve seen quite a few of Russell’s films.  She was adept at dramatic roles and excelled in comedic ones and I liked her in comedic roles the best.  For this blogathon, I decided to write about one of her romantic comedy roles, from 1950, A Woman of Distinction.  For this film, Columbia Pictures brought in Rosalind Russell as the female lead and Ray Milland as the male lead.  Good support for the leads came in the form of Edmund Gwenn, Janis Carter, Francis Lederer, Mary Jane Saunders.  Direction was by Edward Buzzell and screenplay was by Charles Hoffman and Frank Tashlin.


Russell is Dean Susan Manning Middlecott, of Bennington College, in New England.  She lives with her father, Mark(Edmund Gwenn) and her adopted daughter, Louise(Mary Jane Saunders).  Susan loves her family but she is absolutely devoted to her work for Bennington College and finding a good man to marry has not ever been on her agenda.  Her father would love for her to find a good man to marry, but he keeps that opinion to himself, sometimes.

Enter Dr. Alec Stevenson(Ray Milland),  an Astronomy professor from Great Britain,  who is soon departing for Boston to give a lecture for the Pomeroy Lecture Bureau.  He tells the publicist for the Bureau, Teddy Evans(Janis Carter) about a locket he was given  by a Mr.  Benoit, whom he met in a concentration camp.  Mr. Benoit begged Dr. Stevenson to deliver the locket  to  Dean Susan Middlecott, so Alec intends to do that after he gives his lecture.  Sensing a sensational way to advertise the Bureau and its lecturers’ series, Teddy concocts a story that Alec is delivering the locket to Susan because they are having a secret, passionate romance.  Teddy gives that story to the British and US press.

When the locket/secret romance story spreads fast through the public, Susan is outraged! The board of Trustees of Bennington are not amused and Susan decides to take the train to Boston to confront this Dr. Alec Stevenson and demand a retraction.  Susan doesn’t realize that Alec has just left her campus in an unsuccessful attempt to give her the locket, and he’s back on the same train she is on to Boston.  They both disembark the train at the same time, and when Susan learns who that man next to her is, she is so mad she whacks him with her purse.  Of course, Teddy is nearby and makes sure that moment is caught on film, and gets that picture into the papers with more news of the secret romance and is it on the rocks?

From that moment on this film becomes a screwball comedy of miscommunications, Alec and Susan getting to know one another better at the family cabin through dad Mark’s matchmaking skills, a college dance, an arrest, and that pesky board of Trustees raising up their solemn heads.  Will the two academics find love? Will Susan lose her position at Bennington? Will the locket get delivered?Will the rumors about Alec, Susan, and Susan’s adopted daughter get squelched?  I won’t be revealing the answers as I want you, the reader, to seek out this film and view it for yourself.  From time to time, TCM does air it so you’ll just have to keep checking their monthly schedules;it’s not set for a June showing, that I do know.  I did a search of the film on Amazon and all that came up was a VHS copy so that gave me the feeling that the film hasn’t been issued on a dvd yet?  I’m not sure, but that’s my inkling.  An article at tvguide said it is available for streaming, but which service it didn’t say.

So, good luck in your hunt for this fun rom-com, and watch Russell and Milland and Gwenn at their acting  best.

I’ve included a fun clip via TCM showcasing the humorous meeting of the two leads and what happens after they find out who the other one is.  http://www.tcm.com/mediaroom/video/386438/Woman-Of-Distinction-A-Movie-Clip-Blood-Rare.html


6 responses to this post.

  1. Dear Jenni,

    This is a really good article! This sounds like a great movie. I would love to see it sometime. You are a really good writer.

    By the way, I would like to invite you to join our month-long celebration of Code films, #CleanMovieMonth85 (https://pureentertainmentpreservationsociety.wordpress.com/2019/06/07/announcing-cleanmoviemonth85/)! Throughout July, we are going to watch nothing but American Breen Era films, and we are inviting participants to do the same. Writers can join this celebration with articles about their own favorite films and discoveries during the month, and we will republish them on our website. As a special high-point of this celebration, we are hosting a blogathon on the first weekend in July in honor of the formation of the PCA and the twenty wonderful years of decent cinema which followed during Joseph Breen’s tenure. It will be called The Favorite Code Film Blogathon (https://pureentertainmentpreservationsociety.wordpress.com/2019/06/07/announcing-the-favorite-code-film-blogathon/). On July 5-7, participants will choose their single favorite Code films and write about why these movies from the era of film decency were so good. We would love to have your participation. We could really use your talent!

    Yours Hopefully,

    Tiffany Brannan


    • Sure I’ll participate! I’ve been watching nothing but code films lately, so it will either be a western I’ve recently watched (The Man From the Alamo-Glenn Ford or Ride a Crooked Trail-Audie Murphy; or a Doris day film-we recorded the tribute to her on TCM and I’ve seen some of her musicals that I’d not seen before: Romance on the High Seas, Calamity Jane, Tea for Two, On Moonlight Bay). I am preparing to go on a vacation this Sunday, so I’ll try to get a post up about one of the movies I’ve mentioned and link it to the blogathon. You can repost it for the clean movie month blogathon, too.


  2. […] Portraits By Jenni brings us Roz’s delightful 1950 comedy, A Woman Of Distinction.  […]


  3. Posted by Paddy Lee on June 4, 2019 at 10:51 PM

    I love a movie treasure hunt. You make this sound delightful. Thanks for giving me a quest. It all sounds vaguely familiar, but if I have seen it it would have been a very long time ago.

    – Caftan Woman


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