The Mad Miss Manton

The Mad Miss Manton with Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda.  This is more of a screwball murder mystery a la The Thin Man than a screwball comedy.  Barbara Stanwyck plays Melsa Manton, one of a group of socialite women that is known for disruptive high society pranks (like weird scavenger hunts for charity).  As such, when she stumbles upon a body that disappears before the police arrive, she is written off as a kook.  Henry Fonda plays a newspaper man that writes a scathing editorial about her supposed false police report, and Melsa vows vindication.  She leads her band of evening-gown-and-fur clad friends in a quest to solve the murder, only to find body after body in their quest.

This movie has a lot going for it, and surprisingly it just didn't work for me.  Barbara Stanwyck is great but she exudes too much confidence and competence.  You never really doubt that she can handle any situation.  Henry Fonda is too meek.  The best parts are when the gaggle of society girls jump into action and a terrific performance by Hattie McDaniel as Melsa's non-subservient maid.

I do like the name Melsa.


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