6.9/10
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The Mad Miss Manton (1938)

Approved | | Comedy, Crime, Mystery | 21 October 1938 (USA)
When the murdered body discovered by beautiful, vivacious socialite Melsa Manton disappears, police and press label her a prankster until she proves them wrong.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
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Lieutenant Brent
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Helen Frayne
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Edward Norris
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Pat James
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Kit Beverly (as Vicki Lester)
Ann Evers ...
Lee Wilson
Catherine O'Quinn ...
Dora Fenton
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Myra Frost (as Linda Terry)
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Jane
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Hilda (as Hattie McDaniels)
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Sullivan
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Bat Regan
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Frances Glesk
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Storyline

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 <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


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Approved | See all certifications »

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Details

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Release Date:

21 October 1938 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Miss Manton est folle  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Victor System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The first of three screen teamings of Henry Fonda and Barbara Stanwyck. All were comedies. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Lt. Mike Brent: Round up that bag of dames that run around with Manton and bring them down to headquarters. Dreag 'em out of bed if you have to!
Sullivan: Are you kidding? I hope I have to!
See more »

Crazy Credits

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

Connections

Referenced in Pretty Little Liars: The Remains of the 'A' (2012) See more »

Soundtracks

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

 
Stanwyck and Fonda before they fell in love...
21 December 2001 | by (Santa Cruz,CA) – See all my reviews

The stars of this film were paired twice before striking gold in Preston Sturges' The Lady Eve, appearing in a rather humorless comedy called You Belong To Me and two years prior in Mad Miss Manton. MMM was a combination of murder mystery and madcap heiress nonsense with aspects of screwball comedy before it had been defined as such. Stanwyck had been nominated for an Oscar in Stella Dallas the year before, and was given this role to add some glamour, as recent roles in Internes Can't Take Money(the first Dr.Kildare) and the fluffy Breakfast for Two were A list fillers. Stanwyck was just a film away from better vehicles as Golden Boy, Union Pacific, Remember the Night, Lady Eve, Ball of Fire, etc.(she survives earlier films by committing to realism, making pap pictures better than they deserved, and was Frank Capra's favorite actress). Fonda, on the other hand, had just made waves in Jezebel, with Young Mr. Lincoln, Jesse James and Grapes of Wrath ahead in the next few years. So you have two great, popular actors, thrown into a contrived script about Stanwyck as the heiress who sees someone slipping away from a murder scene, only to have the body missing when she calls the police. Fonda is the newspaper hack who slams her in the papers and of course, when they meet, there's supposed to be fireworks. The stars try, but there's really nothing for them to play on. It would take script writers a few more years to learn you shouldn't make Hank Fonda speak quickly and Stanwyck, much as I love her, never really does manage the glamour. She and her friends tend to play a brainless and unchallenged group, excited to solve the murder mystery as a relief from the boredom of wealth and society and a chance to "prove" themselves. Of course, it's not as bad as I write - it's entertaining fluff with hints of each stars' future in several scenes. This is the film where Hattie McDaniel gets to throw a vase of water in Fonda's face, and there's some genuine suspense when Stany sits down with the unbalanced murderer for the denouement. However, Double Indemnity was years away and as this was supposed to be a comedy, Hollywood rules with a happy ending. It was never meant to be social commentary and as such, is an enjoyable watch for three to three and a half stars out of five. However, for both performers at their peak and a truly magnificent supporting cast, see the 5 star THE LADY EVE, a screwball classic.-MDMPHD:


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