Movie Critique - Nick Carter, Master Detective (1939) and Sky Murder (1941)
For review of all movies in the Nick Carter series, go here.
Stars: 3 / 5
Recommendation: With less mystery and more comedy it has been a rather fun going along plot where even the villain can be scared; the hero will bumble along; the heroines are simply delightful even if they don’t chose the hero; and the sidekick gets the final say in the end.
When I watched Phantom Raiders last month, I noted that there were three movies that Walter Pidgeon portrayed the role of Nick Carter. Phantom Raiders was the second in the series. This past week the other two Nick Carter movies were aired on TCM. And here are my thoughts on them.
Nick Carter, Master Detective is a 1939 spy film and the first in the three films in the series which had Walter Pidgeon in the titular role. In this film along-side Lou Farnsby (portrayed by Rita Johnson) and his trusted side-kick Bartholomew (portrayed by Donald Meek), Nick Carter gets embroiled in an espionage scheme at an aircraft factory and racing against time to not only foil the plans of the villains, but also save the girl.
Directed by Jacques Tourneur and Produced by Lucien Hubbard, the plot is based on original story by Bertram Millhauser and Harold Buckley. This film actually got a loss to MGM records. Yet I was surprised that they made two more movies in the series. The story-line was not as grim as the radio show, again filled with humor and adventure.
Sky Murder is a 1940 spy film and the third and final in the three films in the Nick Carter series with Walter Pidgeon in the titular role. In this film, Nick Carter gets involved in a murder of suspected spy Andrew Hendon (portrayed by Tom Conway) on an airplane that was carrying 6 models and Detective Christine Cross (portrayed by Joyce Compton) along with Nick. But Nick's problems doesn’t end there and one of the model he has eye for, Pat Evans (portrayed by Karen Verne), is in the mix.
Directed by George B. Seitz and Produced by Frederick Stephani, the movie was an original screenplay by William R. Lipman, and not based on any of the Nick Carter books. Surprisingly enough this film made a profit for MGM.
Nick's trusted side-kick Bartholomew, the B-Man, comes to his aid in both films and has a final say as always. He is first introduced in the first film and actually bulldozes himself into becoming Nick's aide. Donald Meek made an effective apiculturist and also a very wily aide for Nick's sometimes waywardness mind and tenacious nature to foil spy plans.
Nick's heroines in both the films - Rita Johnson as Lou Farnsby, the air hostess; and Karen Verne as Pat Evans, - actually aid Nick in the investigation instead of being just someone on his arm as a candy. The female partners of the gumshoe showed brains along with beauty.
Nick's famous quote "If I'm wrong, I'll apologize" rolls around his tongue numerous times in both the films. The third film had more meat to it than the other two. It was getting better and more of a gumshoe than a comic crime thriller. Yet the series didn’t continue sadly.
With less mystery and more comedy it has been a rather fun going along plot where even the villain can be scared; the hero will bumble along; the heroines are simply delightful even if they don’t chose the hero; and the sidekick gets the final say in the end.
1) Movie Trivia:
a. Nick Carter, Master Detective:
i. Nick plays with this little gadget where you need to align the balls in appropriate slots by moving it around.
ii. Checkout the security message at the aircraft manufacturing company. Very early measures of security.
iii. Dr. Frankton compares Nick Carter to a Edgar Allan Poe's fictional detective C. Auguste Dupin.
iv. Bartholomew is seen reading a magazine titled "Professional Detective Stories". However for the year 1939 I couldn’t find any such magazine. The closest I found was "Official Detective Stories Magazine". I am guessing filmmakers did a mock of the original magazine for the film.
b. Sky Murder:
i. Virginia O'Brien portraying the role of Lucille LaVonne has her very first role in this film.
2) Grammatical / Historical / Location / Character Errors:
a. Nick Carter, Master Detective:
i. In the beginning of the film, Nick Carter is trying to get on to the plane which already was on the runway, and his taxi cab comes very close to the planes fans. I wonder how the fans' blades didn’t crush the car.
ii. When Nick shoots the pilot from back, when he falls down, his suit jacket is all messy. In the very next scene, we see his suit jacket all set right, and also he moves. If he was shot from behind and dead how did he move?
iii. When Bartholomew takes out bees from his pocket and shows to Nick, it is very clear that a picture of bees is superimposed on Bartholomew's hand. The bees are not in his hand for real.