Cast & Crew
When Matt Brandon is accused of killing Henry Clark, he sends for his old friend, lawyer Carson Drew. Carson's sixteen-year-old daughter Nancy is convinced that her father can clear Matt's name--with her help. Shortly after their arrival, Carson obtains Matt's release from jail on the grounds that no body has been recovered. Later, Nancy and her friend, Ted Nickerson, discover a rare tropical flower on Matt's land. Nancy sends Matt's servant, Apollo Johnson, to dig the plant up for her, and he discovers Clark's body buried underneath. Now the police have everything they need to keep Matt in jail. Because she feels responsible for his arrest, Nancy decides to solve the mystery herself. She is sure that the rare plant grew from a seed that was dropped at the time Clark was buried, a suspicion that is confirmed when she learns that Clark's partner, Clinton Griffith, has a nursery on his property. She and Ted sneak into Griffith's greenhouse to look for the rare plant, but before they can find it, Griffith returns. Learning of their intentions, he asks his pilot, Chuck Marley, to follow them, and Marley overhears them make plans to look at the nursery's sales records the following day. That evening when the Drews accept neighbor Edna Gregory's invitation to an ice cream social, Marley sets the nursery on fire, and the records are destroyed. Nancy talks Ted into searching Griffith's barn for the missing murder weapon, and they find the gun just as Griffith discovers them. He locks them in the barn, planning to kill them in a fake accident. They escape by waving a scarf in front of a bull, but Marley then blocks their path with his airplane. Meanwhile, Apollo has informed Edna of Nancy's plans. She fetches Carson in time to see Ted and Nancy abandoned in the now airborne airplane. After Ted manages to land the plane, Carson explains that Griffith and Marley were robbing Clark and killed him when he discovered their duplicity. Matt is freed and Nancy is reconciled to her father's romance with Edna.
Nancy Drew... Trouble Shooter
The novels proved to be very successful and in 1938, Warner Brothers decided to make it into a "B" picture (a cheaper, shorter film that would play in theaters with the newsreels and cartoons before the main film was shown) starring Bonita Granville, a 15 year-old actress who had been nominated for an Academy Award for her role in These Three (1936). In the space of one year, the studio made four Nancy Drew films, including Nancy Drew... Troubleshooter (1939).
Filming began in early February 1939, and the cast included regulars John Litel as Nancy's father, attorney Carson Drew, Frankie Thomas as her boyfriend Ted Nickerson, and newcomers Charlotte Wynters as Carson Drew's love interest Edna Gregory, Aldrich Bowker (making his film debut in Nancy Drew... Troubleshooter) as the Drew's old friend Matt Brandon and character actor Willie Best as Brandon's servant Apollo Johnson.
Willie Best was a popular character actor in Hollywood who had been previously billed as "Sleep 'N Eat" in his earlier films. Although he was called 'one of the finest talents I'd ever worked with' by Bob Hope, Best found himself cast in stereotypical 'Negro' roles. In a 1934 interview he explained the difficulties faced by an African-American actor then, "I often think about these roles I have to play. Most of them are pretty broad. Sometimes I tell the director and he cuts out the real bad parts... But what's an actor going to do? Either you do it or get out."
The plot of Nancy Drew... Troubleshooter revolved around Brandon's being accused of murder and enlisting the help of his friend Carson Drew to defend him. Nancy, who is always being told by her father not to get involved, does just that and she and Ted go off to find the real killer, assisted by Apollo Johnson.
At the end of the film, Warner Brothers included a segment in which Bonita Granville and Frankie Thomas appeared as themselves asking the audience to send letters to the studio before they introduced the next (and last) film of the series, Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase (1939). Variety's review of Nancy Drew... Troubleshooter called it "another in the comedy girl detective series with Bonita Granville as the juvenile Nancy Drew, who takes things in her own hands and almost entirely by accident solves thing that would make Scotland Yard look sick...Bowker is excellent as the small-towner who gets involved in a murder on his farm. Roger Imhof plays the sheriff but without lending it much comedy relief. One of the unintentional laughs is the wild plane ride the two kids (Granville - Thomas) have in the air when their pilot bails out, leaving them to almost certain disaster. The way the ship spirals and loops in the air without losing the two unskilled passengers, finally coming down safely against a haystack is one of those things."
Producer: Bryan Foy, Hal B. Wallis, Jack L. Warner
Director: William Clemens
Screenplay: Mildred Wirt Benson (story), Kenneth Gamet
Cinematography: L. William O'Connell
Film Editing: Doug Gould
Art Direction: Ted Smith
Music: Heinz Roemheld
Cast: Bonita Granville (Nancy Drew), Frankie Thomas (Ted Nickerson), John Litel (Carson Drew), Aldrich Bowker (Matt Brandon), Charlotte Wynters (Edna Gregory), Edgar Edwards (Chuck Marley).
by Lorraine LoBianco
The Internet Movie Database
Motion Picture Series and Sequels by Bernard A. Drew
The Detective in Hollywood by Jon Tuska
Variety September 30th, 1939
Nancy Drew... Trouble Shooter
The end of this picture included a short segment starring Bonita Granville and Frankie Thomas, during which they ask their viewers for letters and announce the next feature in the series, Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase. This picture was the third in Warners' "Nancy Drew" series. For additional information about the series, consult the Series Index and see entry above for Nancy Drew, Detective.