Female Sleuths

Female sleuths are not a new thing, as this film from 1927 demonstrates.

From the film’s description: C/U of road sign at the top of a wall. “Baker Street”. The door of number 69 Baker Street is seen. Dissolve into a shot of a group of women coming out of a tobacconist shop. A man outside the shop seems to be handing them leaflets. “The first stage in the training of a detective is the prosaic one of teaching the things you may and may not do on your business round” said Mr Kersey.” M/S of a group of young women sitting and taking notes as Mr Kersey stands beside a blackboard. Closer shot of Mr Kersey and the blackboard. (There is lots of writing on the blackboard but it is too small to read on this Steenbeck.) At the top is a “Motto”, alas I can’t make it out. M/S of Mr Kersey lecturing the women.

“Disguise is, of course, a necessary acquirement.” M/S of one of the girls dressed now as a man. Another girl holds up a mirror as she makes up her face. She wears a man’s suit and flat cap. “Also the way to handle obstreperous shoplifters and crooks. (Some of these “ladies” are most “unladylike” when stopped.)” Mr Kersey demonstrates some restraining holds. One of the girls has a go – the others laugh. 

M/S of a woman looking around outside a shop (seen from inside the shop). Another woman walks out of the shop, looks around then gets into a waiting car. Our first lady then jumps into the car from the other side and arrests the second. A female store detective or private investigator at work! She grabs the shoplifter’s arm and puts her hand inside her coat, pulling out a piece of clothing she has hidden inside her coat.

“Shadowing is an art in itself, and where the person followed is ultra-suspicious, a lightening change frequently allays the suspicion.” L/S of man being followed by one of our female detectives. He turns around and notices her, she pretends to be going into a house on the corner. Another woman runs up with a suitcase. She puts it on the step and the first woman puts on a grey wig which the other has brought her. She then pulls a hat over her hair and puts on a scarf. She then continues her pursuit of the man. He looks around again but obviously does not recognise our female Sherlock Holmes. “In fact, in these days, your paper “boy” may even be a girl – the lady detective!” M/S of a man buying a newspaper from a boy on the street. C/U of the boy and the purchaser of the paper – they are both girls in drag! They take off their hats and the paper boy shakes his head to reveal her lovely head of hair. They laugh. 

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