Monday, November 12, 2012

Nick Carter

I've mentioned various detective film series in the past. One that I don't think I've mentioned before is Nick Carter, a series of three B-movies at MGM in 1939 and 1940 which are mildly intereting because Carter was played by Walter Pidgeon. (Looking through Pidgeon's credits, I can't tell if he was a leading man before this. All of the famous stuff came just afterwards.) The series starts with Nick Carter, Master Detective at 1:45, and concludes with Sky Murder at 4:00 PM.

Sky Murder is the only one of the three I've seen, and involve a group of what are supposed to be Nazis, although since the movie was released in 1940, their being Nazis isn't explicitly mentioned. German refugee Kaaren Verne comes to Carter after she's accused of committing a murder in an airplane compartment that I think we can all figure out was done by the Nazis. What's more worth staying for isn't who did it, but how the murder was carried out, as this is a "locked-room" mystery: a murder committed in a room that as far as anybody can tell is locked with no way of entry or exit, and the bigger part of the mystery is how anybody could get into the room. I should probably have recommended The Snorkel which aired over the weekend; although that's more of a thriller in that the viewer knows who did it and how it was done, the characters don't know.

The other interesting thing about the Nick Carter movies is Nick's sidekick Bartholomew, played by bald character actor Donald Meek. Meek is one of those people who, once you put a face to the name, you can't miss him. Meek is practically a whack-job here, using bees in unexpected ways. I don't know how anybody came up with this idea, but it certainly lightens up the proceedings. And since this one is from MGM, you know it's going to have good production values. Sky Murder is nothing special, but it's more than capable enough entertainment.

The Warner Archive really ought to make a box set of the Nick Carter movies.

No comments: