Customer Reviews: The Original Nancy Drew Movie Mystery Collection (Detective / Reporter / Troubleshooter / Hidden Staircase)
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on June 15, 2007
The Original Nancy Drew Mystery Collection presents the four movie Nancy Drew series released by Warner Brothers in 1938-9. Nancy Drew (played by Bonita Granville), an enthusiastic, insightful teen, delights in solving crimes. Her successful lawyer father, Carson Drew (played by John Litel) tries to restrain and protect her, to little avail. Nancy's best friend is compliant, inventive Ted Nickerson (played by Frankie Thomas), who takes frequent tumbles in Nancy's behalf. Each film is a separate story and lasts from 60 to 69 minutes. The principals are all excellent and are supported by fine character actors.

In Nancy Drew - Detective, wealthy alumna Mary Eldredge wants to leave $250,000 to Nancy's school but suddenly disappears. Nancy's doctor reports being kidnapped to treat an old woman in a secret place, to gain entry to which, one must use the password `Blue Bells'. An injured carrier pigeon shows up with a message containing the password. Nancy goes to work to find out what happened to the alumna and to get the money for the school. Nancy and Ted disguise themselves. The story is based on `Password to Larkspur Lane'.

In Nancy Drew - Reporter, Nancy, entered in a newspaper's reporting contest, visits a coroner's inquest and decides the likely defendant is innocent. The key to the case is finding the tin can the poison came in because the can preserves all fingerprints, including the real murderer's. Ted has to box, and a hotel sign provides fun.

In Nancy Drew - Trouble Shooter, a family friend at Sylvan Lake is accused of murder. When a dead man is found under a rare, tropical flower in a field, Nancy starts to snoop. She is not happy that her father enjoys the company of a woman neighbor. Nancy and Ted get to ride in a biplane.

In Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase, two elderly sisters intend to donate their property to a hospital once they own it in two weeks. By their father's will, at least one sister has to sleep in the large house each night in order to inherit. The problems are that people are trying to steal the proof the sisters met the terms of the will, that the sisters' chauffeur is found shot, and that small sounds and thefts are going on at night inside. Should the sisters flee their home? Nancy and Ted find a passageway in the basement that clarifies matters. The film is based on "The Hidden Staircase".

All four black & white films look good, although there are some brief segments of `Detective' that don't and at times `Reporter' looks viewed through a very thin waterfall. (The picture is still far ahead of Alpha Video's.)

There are no sex or language issues. There are no skin scenes, other than a boxing match in `Reporter' between Ted and an older, bad guy. Nancy and Ted are pals and don't even kiss. The chemistry is good.

The characters often say '23 80', which refers to the $23.80 fixed weekly payment to WPA workers; so if you bet '23 80', you are betting a lot.
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on April 9, 2007
Really, really glad these are finally being released by a decent company. And all together in one set.

For my money, Bonita Granville truly brought Nancy Drew to life. No one else could have even come close. Sad that her career was so frustratingly short, as she was a wonderful and, in these films, exuberant actress.

Now we can enjoy these films, with Bonita/Nancy, forever young and full of life nearly 70 years later. Would love to see more of her films on DVD in the near future. (Are you listening, Warner Bros.?)
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Nancy Drew was a highly popular book series that became a group of b-level movies starring Bonita Granville in the title role. These four films are excellent little mysteries, short and sweet with plenty of gusto. They are a bit childish because of the age of the characters; teenagers today would never act the way these teens do. However, if one can ignore that, the movies are highly enjoyable and great for all ages.

First, we have Nancy Drew: Detective, a film about an elderly benefactor who plans to donate much of her fortune to the girls' school that Nancy attends. Before she can donate the money, though, she disappears. Nancy is positive she has been kidnapped, despite the little evidence to support the claim. Along with the help of Ted Nickerson (Frankie Thomas) and her lawyer father (John Litel), she finds that there is a plot afoot, and it might be more dangerous than she originally suspected.

In Nancy Drew: Reporter, Nancy switches her throw-away assignment for the local newspaper in favor of a murder trial. She knows that the woman is innocent, even though the evidence is stacked against her. If only Nancy could get her father to represent the case! But as always, Nancy takes things into her own hands, and ropes Ted into the deal.

Nancy Drew can't stand the sight of her father falling for a woman in Nancy Drew: Troubleshooter. They venture to the country so her father can work on a case against his friend, Nancy's "Uncle Matt," who has been accused of murder. They're safe, until they find the body of the missing man, and unfortunately the evidence is against good-old Matt. Nancy is suspicious as always, and looks into things a little deeper. With the help of a stereotypical servant named Apollo, she sees that the case is much more complicated than her father realizes.

The film with the most exciting title is Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase. Two elderly ladies are started when a murder occurs in their home despite no access for an intruder to commit the crime. They fear paranormal activity because they have been hearing strange noises coming from the basement. They cannot leave unless they want to lose possession of their home because of some technicalities in a will that gave them the house. It is up to Nancy Drew and Ted the ice man to figure out what exactly is causing all of the problems in the old Civil War era home.
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on February 15, 2008
Nancy Drew was my favorite heroine as a child--I devoured all the books! First off, to be able to enjoy these movies, expect changes--Nancy is a bit more bubbly and comedic, Ned's name is changed to Ted and is less suave and more of a put-upon character than the Ned in the books, Bess and George are nowhere to be found, Carson Drew can be abrupt at times, and there is more slapstick all around.

That said, I found the movies entertaining--the dialogue was brisk, the plots fun, the characters funny, but most of all, I love the chemistry between Nancy and her boyfriend Ned (I refuse to call him Ted). There is that romantic tension there--a bit more than pals, but not quite lovey dovey--and though Ned whines whenever he's dragged by Nancy into one of her wild schemes, he's ever loyal, dependable and protective--not to mention, cute, too. Bonita Granville grew on me after the first few minutes--she makes for an appealing, energetic and attractive Nancy.

It was also fun to get to know some of the lingo, fashion and details of everyday life in the 1930s. A clean, fun screwball comedy, these are movies I'm able to watch with the kids--second-generation Nancy Drew readers themselves. My only complaint would be the stereotypical depictions of some ethnic groups, the changes from the books (especially the way Mr. Drew treats the housekeeper), and the (unnecessary) appearance of two bratty children in the second movie, but other than that, I had a good time watching them. Too bad the series ended with the fourth movie.
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on July 2, 2000
The picture and sound transfer on this DVD is very good (that's always good news whenever old, rarely seen films are released on home video). Roan Group is a DVD maker you can count on. "The Kennel Murder Case" is a bright, tight, and fluidly-directed whodunit. "Nancy Drew, Reporter" is a juvenile but enjoyable teen mystery-comedy. The movies are on separate sides on the disc. No captioning nor supplements are included.
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on June 15, 2007
I won't go into the plot outlines, as they have already been discussed in previous reviews. I am late again but will add, this is a great entry into the many famous detective series of the 30's. Bonita Granville who originated the role may appear a bit "perky" to some, but we must remember she was a typical all American teen who was not only very intelligent for her age but also had a knack for solving very clever clues to unravel a crime or mystery.

For Granville, this series liberated her typecasting as a "brat" that she was playing prior to the Drew movies. In real life, she was a very gracious lady who went on to produce the famed LASSIE TV series. Warner Brothers hoped the Drew franchise would continue after 4 movies (contained in this set), but Granville was growing up and ready to play roles more suited to her age.

Based on the beloved series of novels by Carolyn Keene (a pseudonym for many writers of the books), all the remakes of Nancy drew pale in comparison including the television series.

For those young girls who loved the books, and nostalgia buffs, will certainly find this an entertaining, if not a bit fluffy series. The 4 movies do manage to create suspense--making this one of the better entries in the genre.

Worthwhile, despite the sometimes imperfect transfers to DVD--and nicely priced.
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on July 23, 2007
I am shocked at how good these movies are and wondering where they have been hiding as this is the first time that I have ever seen them. They are the best Nancy Drew ever.
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on April 24, 2003
The Roan Group can always be counted on to bring the best quality DVDs on public domain titles.
THE KENNEL MURDER CASE is sharp and clear with great contrast! The mystery is quite intricate and absorbing, I bought this for the next title but ended up thoroughly enjoying this mystery. You will want to see it again and again to find all of the clues.
NANCY DREW REPORTER is also sharp and clear, but there are a few scratches in the print used (not bad). Still it is an excellent presenation. The story is a bit juvinile, but then that is what Nancy Drew was aimed at.
It is a strange pairing of mysteries.
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on September 28, 2010
These movies are great Sunday afternoon family viewing. Throughly enjoyable, and oh so much better than anything at the movies these days. 40 times better the current remake of Nancy Drew.
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on August 27, 2010
My Granddaughter, second grade, who is now reading ALL Nancy Drew books, was delighted with this DVD. The three girls, of course, had never seen the TV series with the Hardy Boys.
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