Skip to content

Nancy Drew : Detective/Reporter (1938/39)

“I guess it’s just my woman’s intuition. Every woman has one, you know.” & “I think every intelligent woman should have a career.”

These two lines jumped out at me while watching the first 2 of 4 films made in 1938/39 featuring Bonita Granville as the young heroine who loves to stick her nose into local crime cases that should best be left to her lawyer Father played by John Litel. They stand out because I think they best serve to demonstrate her spunky personality.

nancy-drew-detective-bonita-granville-on-1938-340254

In the first of our two mysteries, Granville as Nancy believes that she has witnessed a kidnapping. The victim just happens to be Helena Evans who has pledged 250k to Granville’s school for girls. Much to the dismay of her lawyer/accountant James Stephenson. Could he be our red herring?

nancy drew2

Against her Fathers wishes our Nancy enlists the boy next door played by Frankie Thomas to help her route out the men behind the kidnapping. This will involve her getting on the wrong side of the local law enforcement led by Frank Orth. Orth serves more or less as a comedy relief.

With her “boyfriend” in tow and the comical disguise she forces on him to wear it’s just a matter of staying one step ahead of the bad guys and impress her Father at the fadeout by saving Evans from a greedy setup.

nancy drew

The second film of the series sees Granville entered into a contest where the winner will have an article published in the local newspaper. Upon receiving her assignment she quickly switches it to something a little more thrilling. A case involving a woman on trial for her life. Off to an inquest she goes and before we know it she’s convinced that the accused played by Betty Amann is innocent. Now she just has to convince her dad Litel of defending her.

nancy-drew-detective

Litel thinks there is little evidence to support her innocence so once again Granville chases down her boy toy Frank Thomas Jr. (note the billing change) and off they go to find the missing evidence that will clear the attractive Amann.

The actual evidence turns into a football of sorts and gets passed around amongst the films characters which allows Granville to lure Thomas into the adventure and even sets him up as a boxer down at the local gym. He doesn’t fare to well in the square jungle.

This adventure ultimately leads our heroine to “stop the presses” as was her greatest wish at the films outset and catapults her into a madcap chase to round up the real criminals.

All four of the Granville/Drew films were directed by William Clemens and released by Warner Brothers. Clemens had previously worked on the Torchy Blane series and would also chip in on the Falcon flicks. The only film he squeezed in between the Drew assignments was the Karloff feature Devil’s Island.

Screenwriter Kenneth Gamet was the credited writer on both of these films from the famed series of novels. I actually recall my older sister had a large collection of these in hardcover growing up. I am quite sure she wasn’t alone.

There would only be two more titles in the series and they would be released in 1939 as well. The thirties and forties were the heyday of the mystery series and while I much prefer Chan, Holmes and company these are fun although I think it’s easy to say geared towards the younger audience of the times. I have no idea if Granville fit the bill compared to the novels so she works for me. She seems the female counterpart to Mickey Rooney’s Andy Hardy

nancy drew3

Plenty of attitude and spirit carries her a long way. She’s full of facts and percentages and does a good job at dragging Thomas along on her adventures. Even if it’s against his better judgement. Thomas along with character actor John Litel would appear in all four films with Granville as well.

Worth a look if you love those old mystery shows from the golden era.

5 Comments »

  1. I’ve watched two of the four, and confess to liking them a lot — mainly because of Granville, I think. It’s surprising she didn’t become better known than she did, because she was pretty and brought great energy to her roles. What I think she managed in the Nancy Drew movies was a sense not just that she was plucky, intelligent and resourceful but that she was the daughter all of us would wish to have.

    (My own daughter, of course, is twice as wonderful as Nancy Drew, but she really is exceptional!)

  2. I love series detective movies too and watched these, along with the other two subsequent titles, a few years back. I’d call them brisk and fun with nice performances from Granville and Thomas.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

Movies ala Mark

With a Cast of Thousands

Classic Horrors

From silent screen to Halloween, and everything scary in between.

IDENTIKIT

The current online container for the writer Konrad Wardh

Just Hit Play

The Good, the Bad and sometimes Ugly in film

Strother Martin Film Project

What we've got here is failure to communicate

Sophia Riley Kobacker

it's all about the story, possums...

Wolfmans Cult Film Club

Cult, B-Movies, cheesy fun films to Film Noir to classics new to me.

CINESPIRIA

Shining a light on the deep recesses of film history

cinema cities

a personal odyssey through film

Mark David Welsh

Watching the strangest movies - so you don't have to...

Scenes from the Morgue

The Lost Art of Pulp Ads: Film, Booze, Smokes & More!

Film Speech

All things film and television

Diary of A Movie Maniac

A Personal Journey Through Cinema & Television

portraitsbyjenni

My perspective on life & Classic Movie Recommendations

Statis Pro 1978 Replay

Methodically replaying every game of the 1978 baseball season!

4 Star Films

Looking deeper at the best classic movies

everythingnoir

Movies, Television, Books....Everything Noir

Chaplin-Keaton-Lloyd film locations (and more)

by John Bengtson "the great detective of silent film locations" New York Times

Sister Celluloid

Where old movies go to live

Silent-ology

Uncovering the silent era

Canadian Cinephile

"The only way to get rid of my fears is to make films about them." - Alfred Hitchcock

Noirish

The annex to John Grant's *A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Film Noir*

Cinema Monolith

Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.

Sunset Boulevard

Writings of a Cinephile

The Bogie Film Blog

A Film by Film Affair with Humphrey Bogart

Vienna's Classic Hollywood

Vintage Hollywood films and stars

The Film Authority

You're ten seconds from watching an amazing film...

Once upon a screen...

...a classic film and TV blog

shadowsandsatin

. . where the worlds of film noir and pre-code collide . .

hitchcockmaster

Where Suspense Lives!

Tipping My Fedora

Enjoying mystery, crime and suspense in all media

Silver Screenings

an irreverent blog of old movies

monsterminions

They Don't Make 'Em Like They Used To

Comet Over Hollywood

Home for classic movie lovers

filmgeek101

classic movie views for the classic and not-so-classic movie fan

Riding the High Country

Reviews and ramblings

Speakeasy

watching movies

Movies ala Mark

With a Cast of Thousands

Classic Horrors

From silent screen to Halloween, and everything scary in between.

IDENTIKIT

The current online container for the writer Konrad Wardh

Just Hit Play

The Good, the Bad and sometimes Ugly in film

Strother Martin Film Project

What we've got here is failure to communicate

Sophia Riley Kobacker

it's all about the story, possums...

Wolfmans Cult Film Club

Cult, B-Movies, cheesy fun films to Film Noir to classics new to me.

CINESPIRIA

Shining a light on the deep recesses of film history

cinema cities

a personal odyssey through film

Mark David Welsh

Watching the strangest movies - so you don't have to...

Scenes from the Morgue

The Lost Art of Pulp Ads: Film, Booze, Smokes & More!

Film Speech

All things film and television

Diary of A Movie Maniac

A Personal Journey Through Cinema & Television

portraitsbyjenni

My perspective on life & Classic Movie Recommendations

Statis Pro 1978 Replay

Methodically replaying every game of the 1978 baseball season!

4 Star Films

Looking deeper at the best classic movies

everythingnoir

Movies, Television, Books....Everything Noir

Chaplin-Keaton-Lloyd film locations (and more)

by John Bengtson "the great detective of silent film locations" New York Times

Sister Celluloid

Where old movies go to live

Silent-ology

Uncovering the silent era

Canadian Cinephile

"The only way to get rid of my fears is to make films about them." - Alfred Hitchcock

Noirish

The annex to John Grant's *A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Film Noir*

Cinema Monolith

Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.

Sunset Boulevard

Writings of a Cinephile

The Bogie Film Blog

A Film by Film Affair with Humphrey Bogart

Vienna's Classic Hollywood

Vintage Hollywood films and stars

The Film Authority

You're ten seconds from watching an amazing film...

Once upon a screen...

...a classic film and TV blog

shadowsandsatin

. . where the worlds of film noir and pre-code collide . .

hitchcockmaster

Where Suspense Lives!

Tipping My Fedora

Enjoying mystery, crime and suspense in all media

Silver Screenings

an irreverent blog of old movies

monsterminions

They Don't Make 'Em Like They Used To

Comet Over Hollywood

Home for classic movie lovers

filmgeek101

classic movie views for the classic and not-so-classic movie fan

Riding the High Country

Reviews and ramblings

Speakeasy

watching movies

%d bloggers like this: