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Nancy Drew: Detective (1938)

Approved | | Comedy, Mystery | 19 November 1938 (USA)
After a wealthy dowager who has made a substantial donation her alma mater suddenly disappears, Nancy Drew sets out to solve the mystery.



(original screenplay), (story "The Password to Larkspur Lane") (as Carolyn Keene)

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Complete credited cast:
Helena Phillips Evans ...
Mary Eldredge
Effie Schneider
Edward Keane ...
Adam Thorne (as Ed Keane)
Miss Tyson


Nancy Drew and Ted Nickerson solve a kidnapping case of a wealthy elderly lady. Ted has to disguise himself as a nurse while Nancy beomse a "widow" in order to locate the lady they are rescuing. Written by SM <smortens@ix.netcom.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Mystery


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

19 November 1938 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Nancy la detective  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Adapted from the "Nancy Drew" novel, "The Password to Larkspur Lane," first published in 1933. The original author of the novel was Walter Karig (using the Stratemayer Syndicate house pseudonym, "Carolyn Keene"). In the "Nancy Drew" books, Nancy's boyfriend is named Ned Nickerson. For the 1938-39 movie series, his name was changed to Ted Nickerson (played by Frankie Thomas). See more »


The wire attached to the carrier pigeon's leg to prevent it from flying off is visible a number of times. See more »


Effie Schneider, Drew's Maid: I didn't know you wanted to be a lawyer.
Nancy Drew: Oh yes, I think every intelligent woman should have a career.
See more »


Followed by Nancy Drew... Trouble Shooter (1939) See more »

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User Reviews

Delightful, suspenseful fun introducing Nancy Drew to moviegoers.
11 December 2002 | by (New York City, USA) – See all my reviews

In my opinion, the two best series of movie murder-mysteries adapted from books featuring an amateur female sleuth were the 'Miss Marple' treats of the early 1960s (with the unforgettable Margaret Rutherford) and the Nancy Drew comedy-thrillers of the late 1930s (with vivacious, lovely Bonita Granville as the constantly imperilled teenaged heroine). Unfortunately, only four entries were made in each series, and each and every one are to be cherished.

"Nancy Drew--Detective," the first of its quartet, is an unalloyed delight. A wealthy elderly woman donates her fortune to Nancy's highschool (to build a swimming pool) and then promptly disappears. Nancy, spurred to action by the beating of the woman's physician, enlists the reluctant aid of her athletic boyfriend (the extremely appealing and good-humored Frankie Thomas) to find out what happened to the missing lady. Clues are provided by a carrier pigeon, a breathtaking airplane expedition, an ominous gunman who breaks into the Drews' residence threatening them to keep quiet--or else!

Undeterred, Nancy drags Ted on a hair-raising adventure where they eventually track down the missing benefactor to a bogus nursing home on Larkspur Lane (password to anyone trying to enter the front gate is "blueberries"). What makes the film (and its successors) such delectable diversions is, besides the intricate plots, fast-paced direction, and splendid production design and cinematography, is the definitive performances by Ms. Granville, Thomas, John Litel (as Nancy's attorney father), Rene Riano (as the Drews' hyperventilating housekeeper), and a host of first-rate supporting actors.

The Nancy Drew films are as beguiling today as they were over 60 years ago (and, incidentally, depict family life in that era with a sassy sweetness that is truly enchanting).

Don't miss "Nancy Drew--Detective" or any of its three sequels, which TCM has been showing with regularity. These four treasures of yesteryear sparkle with wit, suspense, expert plotting and performances today's movies couldn't recapture if they tried to. The talent so abundant in the studio films of years gone by no longer exists.

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