Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Friday, November 7, 2008


NANCY DREW -- DETECTIVE (1938). Director: William Clemens.
Although the "original" screenplay is attributed to Kenneth Gamet, this was clearly based on one of the original Nancy Drew novels, "Password to Larkspur Lane." A wealthy woman who is on the verge of donating a large sum of money to Nancy's school suddenly disappears, and Nancy (Bonita Granville) tries to find her. In this she is aided or hindered, depending on the situation, by her father Carson (John Litel), her friend Ted Nickerson (it was "Ned" in the books), and the police. Ted is played by Frankie Thomas, and he's basically been turned into comedy relief, even improbably dressing in drag at one point. Hannah Gruen, the housekeeper and mother substitute in the books, has been replaced by the dizzy maid Effie (the oddly-named Renie Riano) in the movie. Granville makes a spirited (perhaps too spirited) Nancy Drew, and the film is decidedly minor but admittedly charming at times.
Verdict: You could do worse. **1/2.

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