Sunday, 1 May 2011

The Mad Miss Manton (1938)

Teaming up Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda, this tale of a notorious prankster, a murder no-one believes happened, and a reporter who can't seem to stay out of trouble is an enjoyable thirties comedy, though never quite becomes as truly "mad" as the film's title might lead you to believe. Stanwyck and Fonda have reasonable chemistry and the film certainly does have its moments, but the insane happenings never come close to reaching the heights of, for instance, Bringing Up Baby (one of my favourite thirties comedies).

The movie would perhaps have benefited from an opening set piece showing one of the pranks and thus setting up Miss Manton's character (and setting up the antagonism between Manton (Stanwyck) and Lieutenant Brent [Levene) / Peter Ames (Fonda); as it is, you have to find this out purely from events that take place after the murder or from dialogue. It felt a bit disjointed to me because of the directorial style; events didn't seem to flow smoothly. Still, it's amiable enough, a bit mad, and features a enjoyably scatty premise; worth watching if you like films from this era.

Also starring: Sam, Levene
Directed by: Leigh Jason


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