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The Mad Miss Manton

(1938 b 80')

En: 6 Ed: 5

A debutante sues an editor after finding a murder victim that disappeared; but her friends help her solve the murder, and the editor wants to marry her.

At 3 a.m. Melsa Manton (Barbara Stanwyck) walks her dogs and sees a man drive off, then finds a bloody corpse. When police arrive, it is gone, and Lt. Mike Brent (Sam Levene) suspects her escapades. Melsa slaps editor Peter Ames (Henry Fonda), and he slaps back. She sues him for libel and asks her friends to help her. Melsa finds her cloak stuck to her door with a knife and a threatening note. Melsa and several women return to the scene, where Peter sneaks in and is gagged by them. The women go to Ronny's apartment, and Melsa finds Sheila Lane's clip and another cold body. Mike ignores Melsa's call, and the body is found in Peter's office. Mike questions Melsa and the women. Melsa thanks Peter for calling her lawyer and tells him about the clip; but soon Mike demands the clip. The first body is found in Ronny's car.

Peter calls on Melsa and gets past maid Hilda (Hattie McDaniel); but Melsa goes with Harold to the charity party at Sheila's. Peter learns that George Lane left a large insurance policy to his partner Fred Thomas, who is rich. Sheila Lane (Leona Maricle) and Fred Thomas (Miles Mander) accuse each other. Peter has Joe open a safe in the Lane-Thomas office for Melsa. They learn that Sheila was married to convict Eddie Norris (Stanley Ridges), who comes in with a gun; but Peter and Joe overcome him. Dora Fenton (Catherine O'Quinn) asks Melsa to clear Eddie. Peter brings gifts and plans to marry Melsa; but she pushes him out. Peter calls Mike but is gagged again. Melsa's women prove Eddie had a valid alibi. Melsa sends them to check beauty shops for Sheila. Hilda gets a call threatening Melsa and calls Peter, who finds Melsa sleeping. Melsa learns where Sheila is and goes to meet Pat (Whitney Bourne). A drive-by shooting wounds Peter, and Bat Regan is caught. Mike gets Melsa to think Peter is dying to learn where Sheila is. Mike interrogates Sheila and then gets Melsa to agree to a story that she found new evidence, and Peter publishes it. Peter dances with Melsa. A shot misses her, but police only find tar paper. Melsa learns that Eddie could have ridden a subway rail. Eddie thanks her for the alibi and confesses to her. Peter comes in. Eddie holds his gun on Melsa and Peter but is shot in the lobby. Peter and Melsa plan to live on her income and kiss.

This comedy-mystery challenges the prejudices of male police who doubt women could ever solve a crime. Yet the romantic editor shows he is liberated enough to live on a debutante's wealth.

Copyright © 2001 by Sanderson Beck

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