Tag Archives: hollywood

52: THE SHATTERED HELMET

 

52

Who Wrote It?: Franklin W. Dixon

C’mon, Who Really Wrote it?: Andrew E. Svenson in 1973.  One of many he wrote, including my favorite.  This is the first of three in a row he will write.

Was It Revised?: No.

Cover: Rudy Nappi.  Beautiful purple symbolic cover.  There’s the helmet, plus film, with Frank and Joe not nearly in as much danger as usual.  A striking cover for its bold colors.

Setting: Bayport, nearby, the American West, California, Greece. Readers from Greece, this is your book!

Where’s Fenton This Time?: Always by the phone when they call (well, almost always there), and ready to buy plane tickets.  Otherwise he’s off camera in this one (camera cuz it’s about film, ok?).

Which Chums Show Up?: Chet.  Well, Iola sort of makes an appearance when Chet makes a film starring her and she appears that way. It’s also the occasion for a nice bit of dry humor:

“Evan was spellbound [watching the film].  “Who is that beautiful girl?”

“My sister,” Chet said proudly.

“Really?”

“I know it’s hard to believe,” Frank commented.

Whoa, nice burn there, Frank.

What’s Chet’s Hobby This Time?: Three guesses, and you can skip the first two if you guess filmmaker. 

Aunt Gertrude’s Dessert: No shape mentioned, but some lovely apple pie is served and appreciated.

Plot: It’s 1973, Hollywood is going through a new Golden Age of independent film, and Frank, Joe, Chet, and their Greek pen-pal Evan (who is visiting for the occasion) enroll in a summer film college course.  Evan has a family mystery involving a missing helmet.  Shenanigans ensue.

Review:  On the one hand, this feels like a write-by-numbers Hardy Boys mystery.  ‘Hmm…I need to have the bad guys try to stop Frank and Joe from the moment they get the case, for that’s in the Hardy Boys writer’s bible.’  So we have the ridiculous matter of Evan just happening to mention a long-ago family mystery, and the very day he does this the crooks are breaking into their house to cause trouble.  That means the crooks were onto the missing helmet before the Hardys ever heard of it.  So why are the crooks trying to stop them from taking the case?  Why not just stay a step ahead of the boys and get the helmet?

In fact, they spend the whole book following Frank and Joe, waiting for the boys to solve the mystery so that they can then grab the helmet.  So why are they trying to stop them from taking the case if they need them to take the case to find the helmet for them?!  Makes no sense.  I think Mr. Svenson realized that (he is a good writer), so he makes up an absurd sub-plot involving Fenton working on a documentary about the mob, and thus all these attacks get attributed to the mob trying to pressure Fenton to stop the documentary.  Uh huh.  Riiight.  Not buying it.

Yet when I turn my logical brain off, I have to admit this is a well-written, nicely plotted story that has much to offer.  Nice Hollywood sub-plot.  Nice introduction to Greece.  Nice way to figure out how to find a helmet that’s been missing for a half-century.  I could do without the weird motorcycle gang chapter, but hey, 1973, how are ya?

That aside, I enjoyed reading this story.  Svenson is good.

Score: 7

21: THE CLUE OF THE BROKEN BLADE

 

21

Who Wrote It?: Franklin W. Dixon

C’mon, Who Really Wrote it?: John Button in 1942, the fifth of his five books in a row.  Mr. Button is now done with the Hardy Boys.

Was It Revised?: Yes, in 1969 by Richard Deming, the only one he did.  Mr. Deming, this is your book.

Cover: Rudy Nappi.  Is there red and yellow?  Not really.  We seem to be going into the abstract period now, and this one is blue, blue, blue.  Frank and Joe fence, someone stares at them behind a mask, and a broken blade reminds us of the title.  It’s OK, well made.  I’m not as big a fan of the abstract ones.

Setting: Bayport, and California, this is Frank and Joe go to Hollywood, sorta, which is nothing like Frankie Goes to Hollywood.  Just sayin’.

Where’s Fenton This Time?: Oh, he goes on vacation with the missus until they both show up in the most unlikeliest of places.  Fans of Laura Hardy — this is your book.  She actually gets to help.  Briefly.  Then the Hardy Boys syndicate shuts her down real quick and we get back to normal.

Which Chums Show Up?: Chet (honorary Hardy Boy at this stage), Callie and Iola, Biff and Tony.  Only Chet gets the big part, and no, I’m not making fun of his weight, which is more than I can say for Frank and Joe for whom no occasion is so solemn as to prevent them from making fun of Chet’s weight.  Way to show empathy, boys…

What’s Chet’s Hobby This Time?: Fencing, as is also the hobby of Frank and Joe and Biff and Tony, not one of whom ever fences again, but they are expert enough in this book to get hired on the spot as fencers and trusted enough to run a fencing school by themselves.  Mr. Deming, we figured out your interest in life, and you crammed it into the plot.  Still, if you have a kid who likes the idea of fencing, this is his book!  But don’t turn your back on that kid…

Aunt Gertrude’s Dessert: “Pieces” of rhubarb pie, three of them for Chet.  Aunt Gertrude never made fun of Chet…

Plot: An inheritance inscribed on a blade, but the blade has been missing for decades.  Wanna bet the boys find it by chapter XX?  Hey, Frank and Joe, we never found Jimmy Hoffa, wanna take a crack at it?  Anyway, the clues lead to Hollywood, an odd screenwriter, a movie being made, and enough crooks running around to baffle anyone trying to make sense why this case is that important.  Mostly everyone fences.  Yeah, we get it, Mr. Deming, fencing is cool, or something.

Review:  Eh.  I’m a little tired of the boys getting on a case involving, say, broccoli, and then suddenly every crook in town is suddenly into broccoli, and willing to kill to keep you from discovering they like broccoli.  Hey, I think I smell a new Hardy Boy mystery: The Clue of the Overcooked Broccoli.

Score: 5