Barbara Stanwyck and a gaggle of giddy debutantes solve a murder mystery in THE MAD MISS MANTON, an amusing entry in the screwball mystery genre.
The uniquely named Melsa Manton (Stanwyck) stumbles across a dead body, but when it disappears neither a police lieutenant (Sam Levene) or a newspaperman (Henry Fonda) believe her. Miss Manton and her wealthy girlfriends thus decide to take matters into their own hands.
MISS MANTON is a good example of '30s film escapism, with Stanwyck's rich society girl living in an elegant apartment designed by Van Nest Polglase. There are some great bits scattered throughout the film; one of my favorite moments in the script is when Fonda tells Stanwyck he's taking her away to South America. "Can you afford it?" she asks. He replies "No, but you can!"
Sam Levene is fun as the bicarbonate-guzzling lieutenant, a role similar to the soda-swilling Inspector Gunther he played in GRAND CENTRAL MURDER. Hattie McDaniel, who plays Stanwyck's housekeeper, has some of the film's best lines. Bit parts are filled with great character actors such as John Qualen, Grady Sutton, and Olin Howland. Check out the credits of Irving Bacon, who plays the process server -- over 500 film and TV credits between 1915 and 1960!
The black and white movie runs 80 minutes and was directed by Leigh Jason. Jason taught at UCLA before entering the movie business. His brother, Will, was also a director, not to mention a songwriter.
THE MAD MISS MANTON has been released on VHS. Vote here at TCM if you'd like to see it released on DVD.
Watch the trailer here.
THE MAD MISS MANTON next airs on cable's Turner Classic Movies on October 26, 2007.
April 2009 Update: THE MAD MISS MANTON is now available on DVD via the Warner Archive.