Movie Critique – Adventures of Jane Arden

Stars: 4 / 5

Recommendation: Spunky, brave, and always after the truth, our girl reporter turned amateur sleuth finds her story in the end, despite coming close to losing her life.

Adventures of Jane Arden is a 1939 American crime film starring Rosella Towne in the titular role. She is supported by William Gargan, James Stephenson, Benny Rubin and others. 

Reported Jane Arden goes undercover to expose a gang of jewel thieves. However, her identity is revealed by one of the gang members; putting her life in peril; taking her from New York City to Bermuda to the lairs of the antagonists. 

Jane Arden was a long-running daily newspaper comic strip that ran from November, 1928 thru January, 1968. She was the original "spunky girl reporter" who seeks to expose criminal activities rather than just report them. Created by Mohte Barrett and Frank Ellis, she influenced the creation of Lois Lane, supporting character in the Superman series; and another comic stirp Brenda Starr, Reporter. 

The comic strip was adapted to a radio series which broadcasted from 1938 through 1939 with Ruth Yorke playing the titular role. However only one movie was made based on the comic strip, this 1939 version. Jane Arden wasn’t a huge hit in America, but remained a successful comic strip in Canada and Australia until 1968.

I like the fact that Jane sticks up to her boss, Ed Towers (Portrayed by William Gargan), managing director of the paper, when he sacks her from the job and doesn’t appreciate her work. On the flip-side she has a funny bone in her. For instance, though she warns the subscription department not to gamble, she plays along for a few dollars for fun. 

Jane has a side-kick in the form of Teenie Moore (Portrayed by Dennie Moore), who creates mishaps and sometimes troubles to Jane and herself, which Jane works to get them out of. Loud mouthed Teenie is no good for other than a few laughs. Like any gumshoe story, cops are rather little dim-witted. The horse carriage chase in the climax definitely added spice and shiver to the plot.

Jane and her newspaper editor, Ed Towers, are quite a pair of sleuths who remind me so much of some of the old time radio detective pairs such as Casey, the Crime Photographer and his reporter friend, Miss Ann Williams; or like Richard Diamond, Private Detective and his Park Avenue girlfriend, Helen Asher.

Perhaps this being the first movie, Jane Arden is shown very amateurish rather than an experienced reporter who goes undercover. If more movies were made, her character would have probably expanded further. Hopefully the comic strips or the radio show had done that. 

Quite an adventure Jane goes through in her very first movie adaptation. Spunky, brave, and always after the truth, our girl reporter turned amateur sleuth finds her story in the end, despite coming close to losing her life. Pity that there were no more movies made for her. Could have been another Nancy Drew series.

Spoiler Alerts:

1) Movie Trivia:

a. There is a disclaimer at the beginning of the film. 

b. Note the use of the word "colored elevator operator" in the article. 

c. Ed and Jane wonder if Teenie and Marvin will ever get together. Marvin Piermont (portrayed by Benny Rubin) is shown as Teenie's boyfriend. Guess somewhere in the comic strip they might have gotten together. 

2) Grammatical / Historical / Location / Character Errors:

a. The newspaper article about Ed Towers being kidnapped has the elevator operator name as Elmer Jones. But prior to his kidnapping, when Ed enters his apartment complex, he calls him as "Sam".

b. In the climax scene, Jane pulls brakes of Vander's carriage and causes it to crash. You can see a crew person running from the site and hiding behind a tree.

c. As Vanders is trying to escape, Towers shoots him. Yet there is no bullet wound on his back on the pristine white suit Vanders wears.


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