Tuesday, June 13, 2006
The Ongoing Sex Appeal of Nancy Drew on Screen
It used to be said of Ginger Rogers, she had to do everything Fred Astaire did, only backwards and in high heels. The same could be said for the legendary strawberry blonde female sleuth Nancy Drew in comparing her to her male counterparts, The Hardy Boys. Maybe that's why, growing up, Nancy Drew always seemed to intrigue me more than the crime solving brother duo. There was always something sexy about the fact that Nancy Drew solved her mysteries, all while wearing a skirt! (Think what you will of The DaVinci Code, but in it, actress Audrey Tautou does everything Tom Hanks does, but she does it in a skirt -- which I must admit is pretty sexy.) Nancy Drew, who was created by a group of scribes collectively writing under the name Carolyn Keene, has had a long on screen history. Soon after the character began appearing in print, she made her debut in a quartet of fun, fast-paced, and quick-witted films (over a two year period) all starring Bonita Granville -- Nancy Drew: Detective (1938), Nancy Drew: Reporter (1939), Nancy Drew: Troubleshooter (1939), and Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase (1939). However, while the books continued to be popular, the "on screen" Nancy didn't experience a real resurgence until The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries hit the small screen in 1977. The then-unknown Pamela Sue Martin, who played Nancy, became an instant teen idol and the series was quite popular for a couple of years. In 1995, Tracy Ryan (the Canadian-born actress who provides the voice of Duck in the children's animated series Little Bear) was cast to play the detective in the short lived series Nancy Drew. The character was revived once again in 2002 for the TV movie Nancy Drew starring Maggie Lawson. (That movie was intended to launch a new series, but it never materialized.) Now, due out in 2007 is the film Nancy Drew: The Mystery in Hollywood Hills. Emma Roberts of Aquamarine fame has the title role. Nancy has clearly evolved over the years, embodying the personas of the then-current generation's young, independent-minded female adventurers. No doubt she will continue to evolve and endure, as long as filmmakers continue to carefully mine the particular attraction of female curiosity.