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directed by Leigh Jason
USA 1938

Wealthy socialite Melsa Manton (Barbara Stanwyck) is taking her pooches for a walk in the dead of the night when she stumbles upon a dead body and a car fleeing the scene of the crime. She alerts the police but the corpse has disappeared by the time they arrive, and the lieutenant, knowing of her madcap reputation, believes she was playing a practical joke. After newspaper editor Peter Ames (Henry Fonda) takes her to task in print, she sues him for libel and enlists the aid of her society friends in tracking down the body and finding the killer. Eventually, Ames comes around to believing Melsa's story and aids her in her search. It isn't long before the two antagonists find they're attracted to each other -- but they have to catch the murderer before they can settle down and live happily ever after. Fonda and Stanwyck would team up again in You Belong to Me and The Lady Eve.

***

Gilt-edged performances from the two stars display something of the chemistry that exploded between them in The Lady Eve. Stanwyck's madcap heiress stumbles across a murder, only to have the body vanish and a dyspeptic cop (Levene) shrug it off as one of her notorious pranks, while journalist Fonda denounces her as an obnoxious example of the idle rich. Instantly on her mettle, Stanwyck rounds up her circle of equally scatty girlfriends and, ignoring a death threat or two, proceeds to solve the mystery with some help from the repentant Fonda. The whodunit tangles tend to overstay their welcome, but Nick Musuraca's dark-toned camerawork leavens the screwball comedy with genuine menace; and Philip G Epstein's dialogue provides a witty undertow of fun poked at the class war (what with Hattie McDaniel playing an anything but downtrodden black maid: 'In my home, the revolution is here,' Stanwyck grumbles). The final clinch even manages a neat subversion of 'correct' attitudes, when Fonda suggests an extended honeymoon since Stanwyck can afford it. 'I wanted to live on your income,' she coos meltingly. 'That's foolish,' he retorts, 'who's going to live on yours?'

Excerpt from TimeOut located HERE

Posters

Television Premiere: October 8th, 1938

 

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DVD Review: Warner Home Video (Warner Archive Collection) - Region 0 - NTSC

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Distribution

Warner Home Video

Region 0 - NTSC

Runtime 1:20:06
Video

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.19 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Audio Dolby Digital 1.0 (English)
Subtitles None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Warner Home Video

Aspect Ratio:
Original - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• None

DVD Release Date: July 21st, 2009
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Chapters 11

 

 

 

Comments

The Mad Miss Manton has a lot going for it - a fun screwball comedy teamed with a murder-mystery plus the great chemistry of Fonda and Stanwyck.

It's standard single-layered MoD (Made-on-Demand) disc but progressive in the original 1.33:1 aspect ratio and looks reasonable. This is labeled under the Warner's "Archive Collection" marquee and the image is consistent with texture and flat with no egregious damage although there are speckles and  few vertical scratch lines. Black levels are adept and contrast supports the film. The disc sis very watchable, if far from stellar, transfer. Decent enough for SD. No complaints. 

The mono sound is a factor of the production - audible dialogue and  the light score by the versatile Roy Webb (Clash by Night, I Married a Witch, This Is Cinerama, Easy Living, The Window, The Americano, Journey Into Fear, I Walked with a Zombie etc.) is clean. There are no subtitles offered and no supplements at all on the region free SD disc.

The Mad Miss Manton, obviously, reminds you of The Lady Eve. I really enjoyed watching it. This era of Hollywood is long gong and I am always appreciative to find another gem, like this, from the past. Priceless. I can never have enough of Stanwyck... or young Fonda. I'll certainly revisit. Recommended despite the bare-bones and MoD status.  

  - Gary Tooze

 



 

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DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

  

   

Distribution

Warner Home Video

Region 0 - NTSC

 




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