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March 21st, 2007, 16:50
The Mad Miss Manton (1938)

The glory of Turner Classic Movies is not so much in the honored classics they show, you can theoretically see those anywhere. It's in these type of relatively unknown films that are actually quite good, that you catch purely by chance. This is another of those un-detective murder mysteries that were common to this era, where an unlikely high school student, husband and wife team, socialite, or some other unlikely person with no "detective skills" gets wrapped up in a murder and finds their inner detective, for the win. It casts one of my favorites, Babs Stanwyck, as a socialite and her gaggle of somewhat lovable (if yet totally stereotypical) rich bitch friends as amateur sleuths, aided by a young Henry Fonda as a news reporter out for the quintessential "scoop".

It's all too predictable, you know that Babs and Peter will fight like cats and dogs, then fall in love, mystery solved, and everything will be hunky dory. It's how it's portrayed that matters, the "configuration" of this particular system that will make it rise above or sink below the bar. This movie made me laugh good a few times, and the humor is very time-specific, with little anti-communism barbs here and there that really clue you in to what the general attitudes of the time were.

I loved it, and am glad I decided to see what was on that late, even tho it kept me up far too long after my bedtime!
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