Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Nancy Drew reports on murder and danger

Nancy Drew - Reporter (1939)
Starring: Bonita Granville, Frank Thomas Jr., Mary Lee, Dickie Jones, Thomas Jackson and John Litel
Director: William Clemens
Rating: Five of Ten Stars

While trying to win an opportunity to have an article published in the local paper, teenaged detective Nancy Drew (Granville) decides a woman on trial for murder is innocent and sets about finding the one piece of evidence that will prove her so. Unfortunately, the real killers are looking for it, too.

"Nancy Drew - Reporter" is the sort of the film that probably appealed to 9-year-olds in 1939--and the presence a pair of trouble-making little kids making life hard for the teenaged protagonists of the story makes sure there's someone there they can relate to--but there's not much for adults to enjoy here. I'm not sure there's even alot for modern kids to enjoy.

The biggest problem is that the mystery being solved here is pretty much explained in the first few minutes, solved halfway through the movie, and ultimately resolved through dumb luck rather than detective work. The film is more concerned about presenting screwball comedic hi-jinx than a sensible detective story and it feels like there was a generic kids' comedy script sitting around that minor modifications was made to in order to make a Nancy Drew film.

You may get some chuckles out the antics here, but I think this is a film you can pass on. (It's only worth getting if you acquire it as part of the Nancy Drew four-movie set that contains all the films produced by Warner Bros. in the 1930s. I'm currently working my through the set... and I hope the next two are better than this one!)

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