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The Mad Miss Manton (1938)

Approved  |   |  Comedy, Crime, Mystery  |  21 October 1938 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.9/10 from 1,329 users  
Reviews: 30 user | 10 critic

When the murdered body discovered by beautiful, vivacious socialite Melsa Manton disappears, police and press label her a prankster until she proves them wrong.



(screen play), (story), 4 more credits »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Sam Levene ...
Lieutenant Brent
Frances Mercer ...
Helen Frayne
Stanley Ridges ...
Edward Norris
Whitney Bourne ...
Pat James
Vickie Lester ...
Kit Beverly (as Vicki Lester)
Ann Evers ...
Lee Wilson
Catherine O'Quinn ...
Dora Fenton
Linda Perry ...
Myra Frost (as Linda Terry)
Eleanor Hansen ...
Hilda (as Hattie McDaniels)
James Burke ...
Paul Guilfoyle ...
Bat Regan
Penny Singleton ...
Frances Glesk


Madcap debutante Melsa Manton finds a body in a deserted house. Of course, the police don't believe her. Stung by Peter Ames's front page editorial decrying her "prank," Melsa enlists seven fellow debs to help her investigate. The wisecracking young ladies proceed to run circles around the police, the suspects, and the press. Written by Rod Crawford <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


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Parents Guide:





Release Date:

21 October 1938 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Miss Manton est folle  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Victor System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Katharine Hepburn turned down the role of Melsa Manton after the poor box-office of Bringing Up Baby (1938). See more »


In a romantic scene in the middle of the film Melsa tells Peter, that "she's had dozens of cigarette lighters but none of them worked." However, at the start of the film when she snoops around the Lane house, she uses a WORKING cigarette lighter as a torch. See more »


Melsa Manton: [storms into the room and slaps the first man she sees] Are you Peter Ames?
Peter's Secretary: No...
Peter Ames: But I am...
Melsa Manton: [Slaps Peter]
Peter Ames: [Slaps Melsa] To complete the circle.
See more »

Crazy Credits

During the opening credits, a flashlight lights up each page of credits. See more »


Home on the Range
Music by Daniel E. Kelley (1904)
Lyrics by Brewster M. Higley (as Brewster 'Bruce' Higley) (1873)
Sung a cappella by James Burke
See more »

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User Reviews

Fonda and Levene Meet Stanwyck and the Seven Capital Vices
27 January 2008 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

In the first of their three co-starring vehicles, Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda shine in character clashing along with many illustrious supporting players in this Golden Era madcap Murder Mystery Comedy.

"The Mad Miss Manton" (RKO, 1938) follows the saga of wealthy débutante Melsa Manton (Barbara Stanwyck) and Hilda (Hattie McDaniel), her efficient housekeeper.

Add to the program seven débutantes abiding in the lap of luxury, and supporting their comrade in society: Helen Frayne (Frances Mercer) Pat James (Whitney Bourne) Myra Frost (Linda Perry) Kit Beverly (Vickie Lester) Jane (Eleanor Hansen) Dora Fenton (Catherine O'Quinn) Lee Wilson (Ann Evers).

Peter Ames (Henry Fonda), an ambitious newspaper reporter, Lieutenant Brent (Sam Levene) and Officer Sullivan (James Burke), who are all summoned to investigate the murder of a wealthy business leader, whose body unaccountably disappears, while another mysteriously surfaces.

When Peter and Lieutenant Brent charge Miss Manton and her ilk of lovely Park Avenue débutantes with attempting to pull a prank, Melsa decides to take matters into her own very capable hands, with help from her associates, who, if you read between the lines, may be considered to exhibit characteristics of the Seven Capital Vices.

Although these are not quite developed during its 108-minute screen story, traces of Avarice, Envy, Gluttony, Lust, Pride, Sloth and Wrath are detectable among the fashionable set of peers.

One often expresses her anger toward the behavior of the establishment. One constantly searches for snacks. One devotes her attention to the gentlemen in her sight. Another sort of lies around without much to do, as others bathe in wealth and pride of their collective station in life, and so forth and so on.

Suspects for the film's central crime display effective performances in well-cast roles, most bringing familiarity to the screen: Bat Regan (Paul Guilfoyle) Sheila Lane (Leona Maricle) Ronnie Beldon (William Corson) Edward Norris (Stanley Ridges) Frances Glesk (Penny Singleton) Mr. Fred Thomas (Miles Mander) and Gloria Hamilton (Kay Sutton).

Rounding out "The Mad Miss Manton" cast includes some familiar faces, each bringing a special quality to an all-too-brief scene along the way: John Qualen as the Subway Watchman Robert Middlemass as the District Attorney Grady Sutton as the D.A.'s Secretary Olin Howland as Mr. X Charles Halton as Popsy, Melsa's Lawyer Vinton Haworth as Peter's Secretary Irving Bacon as Mr. Spengler, the Process Server Bess Flowers as a Charity Ball Guest and Gerald Pierce as the Newsboy.

11 of 15 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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