Review - Film - Manton is more mouldy than mad

5th November 2010 at 00:00

Director: Leigh Jason

Starring: Barbara Stanwyck, Henry Fonda, Sam Levene

Out now on DVD

Cert: U

Rating: 35

Melsa Manton, a rich society girl, finds a body that, by the time the police arrive, has mysteriously disappeared. As the police do not take Melsa seriously, she and her girlfriends take it upon themselves to solve the mystery.

Peter Ames, a confident young newspaper editor who initially dislikes what he sees as spoilt little rich girls, falls - surprise, surprise! - head over heels in love with Melsa. Several red herrings, plenty of high-pitched screaming and another corpse later, our heroine gets her man.

The Mad Miss Manton follows in the footsteps of films like The Thin Man series, with its murder-mystery storyline, banter and likeable male and female stars, who run rings around the bumbling and ineffective police force.

The film might seem dated to a 21st century audience, but it still shows girl power shining through, as the courageous heroine braves risky situations in the search for truth. Stanwyck and Fonda, often cast in more serious roles, clearly enjoyed playing these light-hearted characters and manage to keep the plot rattling along at a good pace throughout.

Overall, although the film did contain lots of humour, tension and great acting, there were some scenes that came across as predictable and wooden, for instance some of those involving Melsa's girlfriends.

I anticipated that, as this was an old film, it would be rather boring. However, it was exciting and did make me laugh out loud at several points.

I give it three out of five stars because even though I did mostly enjoy it, there were bits where I found myself sighing at how obvious things were.

Jasmine Aldre, 10, St Bernard's Catholic High School, Cumbria

This black and white nostalgic film is more for the older generation. I watched it with my parents and discovered that they were following and enjoying it much more than me. It is quite minimalist as far as special effects are concerned - after all, it was produced in 1938! The story concerns Melsa Manton (Barbara Stanwyck) and her society friends (that's "posh" to you and me!) after she discovers a dead body in a house. When the police arrive, the body has gone and no one believes her.

Miss Manton's friends then help her catch the murderer (girl power for the 1930s), which makes the police none too happy.

When Manton and Co find another body, the police don't believe them, which leads to the introduction of the journalist, played by Henry Fonda, and the inevitable love story - a bit of romance to this otherwise dreary motion picture.

Starring Henry Fonda, from 12 Angry Men, as the reporter and Guys and Dolls's Sam Levene as Lieutenant Brent, this film has some classic actors from times gone by. But I must admit that I had a hard job following it - and keeping myself awake. If children are watching it, then, like I did, they're going to need an adult there to keep them on track. So, three stars only.

Kerry Douglas, 13, St Ninian's High School in Glasgow

Filmclub, a charity supported by Lovefilm, helps to set up after-school film clubs where children watch and discuss a range of films, promoting learning in an informal setting. Each week members of Filmclub will review everything from new releases to cinema classics. Join at www.filmclub.orgregister

Filmclub Reviews by pupils


Directors: Ben Chace and Sam Fleischner

Starring: Carl Bradshaw, Kevin Bewersdorf, Norah Jones, Sean Bones

Released on DVD on November 8

Cert: 15

Rating: 25

Wah Do Dem (Jamaican patois for "What's wrong with them?") is a low budget ($75,000) American independent road movie which starts with mumbling Brooklyn twentysomething Max getting dumped by his girlfriend (a cameo by singer Norah Jones) before slowly managing to drag himself even further downhill.

He then wins tickets to go on a Jamaican cruise but fails to find a friend to go with. He trudges off by himself and throughout the trip is underwhelmed by the tedious company of his fellow passengers.

Eventually he arrives in Jamaica where his luck does not improve when he is robbed and then misses the boat. He embarks on a road trip to try to get to the embassy in Kingston, on the way encountering the near-comatose (you know why) locals.

It is a mystery why the directors thought we would be interested in viewing someone urinate, eat breakfast, lunch, dinner, watch TV and swim. NOWHERE BOY

There is a reason why you do not see these "real life" things in other movies - because they are boring.

Richard Wells, Filmclub leader, St Bernard's Catholic High School, Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria

Director: Sam Taylor-Wood

Starring: Aaron Johnson, Kristin Scott Thomas, Anne-Marie Duff, David Threlfall

Out now on DVD

Cert: 15

Rating: 45

I approached this biopic about the young John Lennon with apprehension as The Beatles don't exactly light my fire. We are introduced to John as a 15-year-old looker and trouble maker, living with his Aunt Mimi and Uncle George. When George suddenly dies, John's grief compels him to search for his long-lost mother - a lively soul who left when he was just five years old.

He finds her living nearby, settled with a partner and two daughters. Putting aside the confusion and questions, the pair soon form a close bond. She shares John's new-found passion for rock'n'roll, and she introduces him to the banjo, his first instrument.

After forming his first band - school outfit The Quarrymen - John is introduced to a superior musical talent by the name of McCartney. Petty jealousies surface early, yet there's no doubt that John's dedication and sheer stubbornness will take him a long way. And it does; through heartbreak and regained memories, there is no doubt in our minds the young Lennon will become every inch the man who is still worshipped today.

Courtney Vaughan, 15, The Frances Bardsley School for Girls, Romford, Essex.

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