Directed byHarold French
Written by
Based onJeannie (1940 play)
by Aimée Stuart
Produced byMarcel Hellman
CinematographyBernard Knowles
Edited byEdward B. Jarvis
Music byMischa Spoliansky
Tansa Productions
Distributed by
Release dates
  • 6 September 1941 (1941-09-06) (UK)
  • 12 September 1943 (1943-09-12) (US)
Running time
101 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

Jeannie (also known as Girl in Distress) is a 1941 British romantic comedy film directed by Harold French and starring Barbara Mullen, Michael Redgrave, and Albert Lieven.[1]

The film's sets were designed by Duncan Sutherland.[2]

Based on a play of the same name by Aimée Stuart, it was loosely remade in 1957 as Let's Be Happy.[3][4]


Jeannie McLean is a young Scottish woman who takes care of her tightfisted father, leaving her no time (and money) for herself. When he dies, she discovers he has left his "fortune" – 297 pounds – to her, nothing to her married sisters. She decides to have some fun for a change, starting with a trip to Vienna.

On the way to and in Vienna, a stranger, Stanley Smith, helps her through various difficulties resulting from her inexperience. As they become acquainted, she tells him she is 26, but he soon discovers (from her passport) that she is 22.

In Vienna, Jeannie makes the acquaintance of Count Ehrlich von Wittgenstein, while Stanley gets to know a blonde model named Margaret. The next day, Stanley sets out to market his invention, a washing machine, while the count takes Jeannie on a tour of the city. She goes shopping for clothes. When Stanley sees her that night, she is completely transformed outwardly. Stanley asks her out, but she is already engaged to go to the opera with the count. Stanley takes Margaret there too. Everywhere the count takes Jeannie, Stanley arranges to be there as well, along with Margaret. Finally, the count asks Jeannie to marry him, but when he learns that she is not rich as he thought, he breaks it off. Jeannie has just money enough left to get home.

Stanley has great success selling his washing machines, but when he goes to Scotland to find Jeannie, no one knows where she is. As luck would have it, she has found work demonstrating Stanley's product. He proposes to her, and after some resistance, she gives in.



The film established Harold French as a director. He later said:

The producer, Marcel Hellman, was very generous to me and he forced me through into a major picture; I don’t think the distributors wanted me, they wanted someone well known. It made a star of Barbara Mullen, who was terribly good, though we thought she would have become a bigger star. Bernard Knowles was the cameraman; I valued his co-operation. If I got in a muddle in a crowd scene, he always knew how to move the camera. We also had Anatole de Grunwald and Roland Pertwee as the writers so we had a very well credentialed film... Jeannie was a success because Jeannie was Cinderella.[5]

Critical reception

The New York Times wrote, "Every now and then, thank heaven, there comes to Broadway a modest and unsung little film that arouses no anticipations at all and then quietly and firmly captivates you. "Jeannie," now at the Little Carnegie, is just such a film, and this corner, at least, accepts it with pleasure as that theatre's first offering of the season...For "Jeannie" as enchanting a bit of rue and nonsense as we've succumbed to in many a month..."Jeannie" is pure comedy of character. And what refreshing comedy it is!...Director Harold French...has staged the story with affection and understanding, "Jeannie" is not super-duper entertainment to knock your eye out, but it does have the gleam of real gold. As Jeannie likes to say: "My, how nice!"[6] and Leonard Maltin similarly approved of an "Enjoyable comedy-romance," and rated the film three out of four stars.[1]


  1. ^ a b "Jeannie (1941) - Overview -". Turner Classic Movies.
  2. ^ "Duncan Sutherland". Archived from the original on 21 September 2017.
  3. ^ "Jeannie - Theatricalia".
  4. ^ "Let's Be Happy (1957) - Henry Levin - Synopsis, Characteristics, Moods, Themes and Related - AllMovie". AllMovie.
  5. ^ mcFarlane, Brian (1997). An autobiography of British cinema : as told by the filmmakers and actors who made it. Metheun. p. 212.
  6. ^ "THE SCREEN; ' Jeannie,' a Captivating Comedy, Enlisting Michael Redgrave and Barbara Mullen, Opens at Little Carnegie Theatre".