TCM has been running the NANCY DREW series on Saturdays. It only takes a month since Warner Brothers only made four. It’s odd that the character is so etched into my brain-I probably knew more about them in my youth than I did about Andy Hardy- that I could have sworn there were more of them.
Although the series only lasted two years, it is interesting to watch the change in Bonita Granville. Nancy in the first film, NANCY DREW, DETECTIVE seems much younger than the Nancy of NANCY DREW, TROUBLE SHOOTER made a year later. Bonita Granville herself seems a lot more confident in the latter as well. Or maybe I’m just reading too much into it.
The reviews here, http://www.reelfilm.com/wbnancy.htm, are not exactly stupendous but will give you an idea of what everything in Nancy’s world is all about.
Nancy drives like a fool, just like Andy Hardy. Unlike Andy, however, she has very little moral support from her father, who is really just trying to get Nancy to quit being Nancy and start being like other girls. John Litel’s Carson Drew is no wise, helpful Judge Hardy. I suspect that the series didn’t last like the Hardys because Warner Brothers just didn’t do schmaltz, and the Drews needed a bit of MGM-style schmaltz to keep audiences coming back after the first couple of tales.
Nancy has the exasperated boyfriend Ted, played by Frankie Thomas. Unlike a lot of sidekicks, Ted isn’t a fool. He’s there to try but fail to keep Nancy under control. His is the unheeded voice of the responsible teenager. And Polly Benedict would never, ever have put up with Andy pulling the kind of stuff Nancy gets away with at Ted’s expense.
Because I have to tie this back to Virginia Weidler, this is the Virginia Weidler Remembrance Society after all, I have to bring her into this at this point. Here goes…
Bonita’s Nancy seems to get less blonde through the series. By the third installment, she had hair just a shade lighter than Virginia’s in THE YOUNGEST PROFESSION and I must admit Virginia’s 1943 made over “glamour-puss” looks to me a lot like Granville’s 1939 Nancy Drew once I looked at the Drews again.
It makes me see TYP in a slightly different light. Joan Lyons could easily have gotten into Drew-style capers in a series of films with her pal Patsy and boyfriend Schuyler, who is a potential Ted if there ever was one.
Or, better yet, Hollywood could have just kept changing Nancy Drews every few years like James Bonds. First Granville, then Weidler, then Joan Carroll, then Natalie Wood! (Humor me here.)
Our member Jarrod likes to talk of the need for reinventions. We never got to see a last reinvention of Virginia Weidler past 1943. I’d love to see her version of Veda from her MILDRED PIERCE screen test to see how different she was from the 1943 Ginny. The Ginny of later photographs still seems like the sunny girl next door type. With no later films and few photos, that just seems to be who the grown up Virginia Weidler turned out to be. Some of our research indicates that’s NOT who Virginia wanted to play, however.
Granville, on the other hand, seems to have made the more radical change toward the sultry in her professional image as she reached adulthood. And it worked for her until she chose to go behind the camera after her marriage to Jack Wrather.
Finally I apologize to member Bobby Sulecki for moving in on one of his favorite subjects, Bonita Granville, this morning. I hope I didn’t do her too big an injustice when comparing her Nancy to Ginny’s Joan.
I urge everyone to look at Bobby’s salute to Bonita. It is well researched, written and from the heart.