A brand new Nancy Drew movie is heading our way.
While the literary Nancy is still going strong, with new books being released twice a year, past efforts to adapt the Girl Detective for movies or TV have been hit-or-miss.
Let’s look at some of the past attempts at getting Nancy Drew on screen.
1. Bonita Granville’s Nancy Drew
In 1937, Warner Bros. obtained the film rights for the Nancy Drew novels. They intended to produce a series of B-movies based on the stories.
Bonita Granville was cast as Nancy, with John Litel as her father, Carson Drew, and Frankie Thomas as her friend Ned Nickerson, renamed ‘Ted’ in the films. While popular with movie-goers, the films were frowned upon by fans of the books. The characters of Nancy, Carson, and Ted/Ned were completely unrecognisable from their literary counterparts.
Four films starring Granville as Nancy officially exist. However, rumours persist that a fifth film was produced, but never released. If this film ever existed, it is most likely lost.
2. The Hardy Boys/ Nancy Drew Mysteries
In 1979, Nancy Drew made her small screen debut in The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries. Future Dynasty actress Pamela-Sue Martin starred as Nancy.
In the first season, episodes alternated between Nancy and The Hardy Boys, but in the second season, Nancy was mostly reduced to a supporting character in the more popular Hardy Boys stories. Nancy was dropped from the show entirely in season three after Martin opted not to return.
Pamela-Sue Martin’s Nancy Drew remains one of the most popular incarnations of the character.
3. The 1995 series
In 1995, there came another attempt at a Nancy Drew TV series. This one starred Tracy Ryan as Nancy, and Joy Tanner as her friend Bess. Scott Speedman appeared in a recurring role as Ned.
This series boosted Nancy’s age, re-imagining her as a twenty-one year old Criminology student. A new Hardy Boys series aired around the same time, leading to occasional crossovers.
Sadly, both shows were cancelled halfway through their first season. However, the Nancy series has popped up on a few streaming services.
4. 2002 TV movie
2002 saw yet another attempt, with Disney producing a new Nancy Drew TV movie. This time around, Maggie Lawson stepped into the shoes of the Girl Detective.
Despite being produced by Disney, the 2002 film puts a slightly more adult spin on Nancy. The core mystery involves a drug bust, and Nancy falls out with her usually beloved father, Carson.
The film was intended as a pilot for a possible TV series, but it wasn’t meant to be.
5. Nancy Drew (2007)
Surprisingly, it took until 2007 before the first full-length theatrical Nancy Drew film reached cinemas.
Emma Roberts stars as Nancy Drew. After moving to California from her small hometown, River Heights, Nancy is soon caught up in the unsolved mystery of movie star Delia Draycott. Draycott’s will has gone missing, leading to conflict over the inheritance of her estate.
The film received reasonably good reviews, but fans were disappointed in the omission of many classic characters from the books.
We may be about to see a lot more of Nancy.
Apart from Nancy Drew And The Hidden Staircase, a pilot for a new TV series featuring an older Nancy has recently entered production.
Only time will tell whether either of these attempts will give this classic character the truly successful adaptation she deserves.