Written by Kami at Classic Couple
Nancy Drew, the fictional heroine of The Nancy Drew Mystery Stories, first appeared in 1930. For 73 years, until the series ended in 2003, Nancy solved mysteries as a teenage high school graduate living in the town of River Heights with her father, attorney Carson Drew and their housekeeper. Over 70 million copies of The Nancy Drew Mystery Stories have sold, ghostwritten by several authors and published under the collective pseudonym Carolyn Keene.
Nancy Drew is interwoven into American culture and it comes as no surprise that in the early years of the series, the character was given life on the screen. In 1938 Warner Bros. announced its intention to produce a Nancy Drew series of films. Four were released as B-films, each around 60 minutes in length intended to be run before a main feature. The series appeared in rapid succession:
Nancy Drew… Detective, released November 1938 Nancy Drew… Reporter, released February 1939 Nancy Drew… Trouble Shooter, released June 1939 Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase, released September 1939
Each of the four movies stars the same core cast. Bonita Granville portrays Nancy Drew, John Litel her father Carson Drew and Frankie Thomas her neighbor and love interest Ted Nickerson.
The films were only loosely based on the books, prompting some fan criticism at the time. Nancy Drew in the 1930s books was intelligent, quick-witted and capable. In the films she is gullible and more meddling schemer than professional sleuth. The movies were billed as combination comedy dramas, peppered with comic elements and featuring crimes more severe with dangerous criminals committing murder. Taken apart from the books, the films are an entertaining foray into a beloved character brought to life on the big screen.
To read the rest of Kami's review, click here! (Note before reading on—contains plot spoilers.)