Sky Murder

Sky Murder is a 1940 detective film starring Walter Pidgeon as detective Nick Carter in his third and final outing for MGM as Nick Carter.[2] The film was part of a trilogy based on the long-running radio series of the same name. In the heightened tensions prior to World War II, Hollywood produced many films in the spy film genre such as Sky Murder.[3]

Sky Murder
Directed byGeorge B. Seitz
Produced byFrederick Stephani
Written byWilliam R. Lipman
Based onNick Carter (literary character)
StarringWalter Pidgeon
Donald Meek
Music byDavid Snell
CinematographyCharles Lawton Jr.
Edited byGene Ruggiero
Production
company
Distributed byMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date
  • September 27, 1940 (1940-09-27) (USA)
Running time
72 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$212,000[1]
Box office$437,000[1]

Sky Murder followed Phantom Raiders (1940) and the first film in the series, Nick Carter, Master Detective (1939) and led to Sky Murder, the last of the Nick Carter series. [N 1]

Plot

Old friend Cortland Grand (Edward Ashley) summons private detective Nick Carter (Walter Pidgeon) and his friend "Beeswax" Bartholemew (Donald Meek) to Washington for as meeting with Senator Monrose (George Lessey), who heads a committee investigating subversive groups in the U.S. Nick turns down the Senator's request to assist his committee, and flies back to New York on Cortland's personal aircraft. Joining Nick on the flight are six beautiful models accompanied by their chaperone, detective Christine Cross (Joyce Compton), and Andrew Hendon (Tom Conway), a polo star suspected of being a spy.

Upon landing, Hendon is discovered murdered with a nail file belonging to model Pat Evens (Kaaren Verne), in his throat. More ominously, three spies wait on the landing strip are intent on silencing Pat and getting in the cockpit, they strangle the pilot. Nick take over, bringing the passengers to Cortland's country house, where he interrogates Pat when machine gun fire hits the house. Bartholomew is dressed in Pat's robes to fool the killers, allowing Nick and Pat to make a getaway.

After leaving in the sheriff's car, Nick and Pat are arrested. When they are locked up, the spies plant a bomb with Pat and Nick again narrowly missing being killed. They take refuge in Cortland's New York apartment where Pat tells Nick that the spies had been threatening to kill her father, held captive in Europe. As Pat confesses, Bartholomew and Christine trace the spies to their hideout behind a printer's shop, but they are taken prisoner.

Sending Pat to stay in a small hotel, Nick contacts Senator Monrose and realizes that Cortland is likely the leader of the third column spies. Nick locates Bartholomew by following his bees butd when he goes to rescue his assistant, Kathe (Dorothy Tree), one of Cortland's spies, kidnaps Pat.

After rescuing Bartholomew and Christine, Nick alerts the police, who arrest the spies and free Pat. Setting a trap for Cortland, Nick and the Senator board his aircraft, and after Nick tricks him into a confession, Cortland dies in a shootout.

Cast

Production

Production on Sky Murder began on July 24, 1940. [5] A Douglas DC-2 in scale model form is seen in the film.[6]

Reception

Box office

According to MGM record, Sky Murder earned $270,000 in the US and Canada and $167,000 elsewhere, making a profit of $64,000.[1]

Reviews

Film reviewer Bosley Crowther in hisThe New York Times review of Sky Murder, wrote, "let a Hollywood producer launch a film series and very shortly the stories, as they appear, become as formalized as Chinese checkers. The Nick Carter mysteries are no exception ... Through it all Nick is magnificently careless. Though sudden death lurks outside the window pane, he never pulls a shade. When seconds count, he saves one to pinch a cutie's cheek. When lesser men quail, he lights a cigarette. As usual, he wins his game in a welter of comic-strip heroics. But, as we were suggesting, it's a little like playing checkers with an opponent whose tricks became familiar long ago".[7]

Film historian and reviewer Leonard Maltin called Sky Murder an "above-average private-eye yarn."[8]

Film historian John Douglas Eames in The MGM Story: The Complete History Of Fifty Roaring Years (1975) described Pigeon's recurring role as sleuth Nick Carter in Sky Murder, "a 'melo'."[9]

References

Notes

  1. After appearing on Broadway, Walter Pidgeon returned to Hollywood, but was relegated to playing secondary roles in films like Saratoga (1937) and The Girl of the Golden West (1938). Taking a leading man role in the Nick Carter series was an opportunity to build his profile with MGM.[4]

Citations

  1. "The Eddie Mannix Ledger." Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study (Los Angeles).
  2. Pendo 1985, p. 18.
  3. "Details: 'Sky Murder' (1940)." BFI, 2019. Retrieved: June 15, 2019.
  4. Quinlan 2000, pp. 415–416.
  5. "Notes: 'Sky Murder' (1940)." Turner Classic Movies (TCM.com), 2019. Retrieved: June 15, 2019.
  6. "1940 Sky Murder - Trailer - Walter Pidgeon as Nick Carter." Youtube, March 17, 2018. Retrieved: June 15, 2019.
  7. Crowther, Bosley. "The screen in review." The New York Times, November 14, 1940.
  8. "Review: 'Sky Murder' (1940)." Turner Classic Movies (TCM.com), 2019. Retrieved: June 15, 2019.
  9. Eames 1975, p. 165.

Bibliography

  • Eames, John Douglas. The MGM Story: The Complete History Of Fifty Roaring Years. London: Octopus Books, 1975. ISBN 0-904230-14-7.
  • Pendo, Stephen. Aviation in the Cinema. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1985. ISBN 0-8-1081-746-2.
  • Quinlan, David. Quinlan's Film Stars. Washington, D.C.: Brassey's, 2000. ISBN 978-1-57488-318-3.
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