Saturday, July 3, 2010

Nancy Drew: Trouble-shooter
or Trouble-maker?

Nancy Drew: Trouble Shooter (1938)
Starring: Bonita Granville, Frankie Thomas, John Litel, Eville Alderson, Charlotte Wynters, Willie Best and Aldrich Bowker
Director: William Clemens
Rating: Six of Ten Stars

When a family friend (Bowker) is accused of murder, celebrated attorney Carson Drew (Litel) travels to a small country town to defend him at trial. As Carson builds his case and finds romance with a local lady (Wynters), his teenaged daugther Nancy (Granville) and her long-suffering friend Ted (Thomas) set about to prove his client's innocence by finding the real killers.

"Nancy Drew: Trouble Shooter" is a fast-movie action/comedy with a fairly simply mystery thrown in for good measure. Its pacing and general story thrust reminds me of some of the juvenile mysteries I read as a kid, so I found it quite entertaining. (Someone who's actually read some of the original Nancy Drew books tells me that everyone is behaving very much out of character, but if taken on its own merits, this is a fun little movie.)

While the thrills I'm positive this film generated for its young target audience in 1939 were far greater than those they will inspire in kids today, I think this is a film that modern youngsters might enjoy, particularly if they're readers who are interested in mysteries. The story moves fast enough and the situations that Nancy and Ted end up in are dangerous enough that I think they will be drawn into the action. It can also serve as a great conversation piece between parents and kids who may be studying American history or who just have an interest in history. It is a clear illustration of how much society has changed in the seventy years since the film's release--all the main characters featured in the film are wealthy, yet the country house the Drew's stay in doesn't have gas or running water or a phone. That's just the most obvious "study guide" element present in this film,

If you like old time detective films and comedies, I think you'll be entertained by "Nancy Drew: Trouble Shooter", no matter what your age.

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