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The Mad Miss Manton

by Leigh Jason (Director)

Other authors: Frank Anthony (Actor), Whitney Bourne (Actor), James Burke (Actor), George Chandler (Actor), Ann Evers (Actor)9 more, Henry Fonda (Actor), Paul Guilfoyle (Actor), Eleanor Hansen (Actor), George Hively (Editor), Olin Howland (Actor), Vickie Lester (Actor), Sam Levene (Actor), Miles Mander (Actor), Barbara Stanwyck (Actor)

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  geohistnut | Sep 18, 2018 |
The Mad Miss Manton (1938)

Barbara Stanwyck – Melsa Manton
Henry Fonda – Peter Ames

Sam Levene – Lieutenant Brent
Frances Mercer – Helen Frayne
Whitney Bourne – Pat James
Vickie Lester – Kit Beverly
Catherine O’Quinn – Dora Fenton
Linda Perry – Myra Frost
Eleanor Hansen – Jane
Hattie McDaniel – Hilda
James Burke – Sullivan
Stanley Ridges – Edward Norris

Screenplay by Philip G. Epstein, based on a story by Wilson Collinson
Directed by Leigh Jason

Black and white. 80 min.


Peter: We’ll go to South America, for six months – maybe we'll never come back!
Melsa: Can you afford it?
Peter: No, but you can.
Melsa: Isn’t there a drop of red blood in your veins? I want to live on your income!
Peter: That’s foolish, who’s going to live on yours?

Lt. Mike Brent: Everybody suspects you of holding out. Even I do.
Melsa Manton: Oh, I bet you say that to all the girls.

This entirely flippant and perfectly delightful combination of noir mystery and romance is the first – and to my mind the best – movie Henry Fonda and Barbara Stanwyck did together. The plot is simple but smartly written. Melsa Manton is a rich socialite and the leader of a female group of “Park Avenue pranksters”. When she reports a murder and no body is found, she is ridiculed in the press by the cocky Peter Ames. Melsa and her gang of glitzy cronies set out to prove her sanity, and the fun breaks loose.

Both Henry and Barbara are in their early thirties, dazzling and beautiful, playing with gusto scene after scene of exquisite farce. If their first meeting – she slaps his assistant by mistake, then she slaps him, then he slaps her “to complete the circle” – doesn’t make you, if not laugh, at least smile, there might be something wrong with you. Seek medical attention before it’s too late. I have no idea what people mean when they say there is “no chemistry” between Fonda and Stanwyck.

The supporting cast includes two or three quite charming “Park Avenue pranksters”, a comic legend like Hattie McDaniel, and that great genius of hilarity James Burke. But the greatest supporting star is Lieutenant Brent. Sam Levene is a riot. He has some of the best lines; and boy, does he make the best of them!

Look, lady, it’s been ten minutes since you called us. The murderer, that is if there is a murderer, could be in Brooklyn by now – that is, if anybody wants to be in Brooklyn.

Miss Manton, I don’t know what your game is, but I know this. Either your education or your spankin’ has been neglected. Now I can’t do anything about spankin’ ya. Or can I?

This is a movie that never for a single second takes itself seriously at all. If you manage the same stunt in the course of these eighty minutes, you are in for something special. If not, you’ll find it unendurable. ( )
  Waldstein | Apr 17, 2018 |
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» Add other authors (10 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jason, LeighDirectorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Anthony, FrankActorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bourne, WhitneyActorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Burke, JamesActorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Chandler, GeorgeActorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Evers, AnnActorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Fonda, HenryActorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Guilfoyle, PaulActorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hansen, EleanorActorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hively, GeorgeEditorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Howland, OlinActorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lester, VickieActorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Levene, SamActorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Mander, MilesActorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Stanwyck, BarbaraActorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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