The Mad Miss Manton is a prime example -- though not the best example -- of the screwball comedy. Director Leigh Jason moves the plot along quickly enough, and also manages some effective transitions of mood, from zany comedy to dark menace, at the proper moments. And the cast, right down to the supporting players, is delightful. But one also gets the sense that the lead players here are seldom working in higher than second gear, and the whole production is little more than a lark for them, particularly Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda. That's not a problem, except that it prevents The Mad Miss Manton from ascending to the ranks of such top-flight comedies of its era as My Man Godfrey, It Happened One Night, etc. -- additionally, Stanwyck look, at moments, like she is chafing at the goofier, zanier aspects of her character. Still, this is a fun romp, offering the virtue of not only a lot of light-hearted laughs and entertaining by-play, but also some lively female-focused dialogue, reminiscent in tone of parts of The Women.
by Bruce Eder review