14 November 2020 | SimonJack
Nick Carter breaks unnamed espionage ring in 1940
"Sky Murder" is a Nick Carter mystery film that is more about the burgeoning pro-Nazi underground in the U.S. It's interesting because unless modern day moviegoers know something of the history at that time, it may not be so apparent. As the film progresses, of course, it becomes apparent that the "bad guys" are some sort of foreign underground. Yet, this movie never even refers to Germany or Nazis by name. Indeed, there isn't even a mention or any sign that World War II is going on around much of the world at the time.
The short series of Nick Carter mystery films with Walter Pidgeon were second tier (B) pictures of MGM. And, their mystery plots all had to do with espionage or underground efforts of some sort. This film was released in late September. But three months earlier MGM released its excellent anti-Nazi movie, "The Mortal Storm." That film had a top Hollywood cast of the day. It starred James Stewart, Margaret Sullavan, Robert Young, Frank Morgan, Robert Stack and Bonita Granville. And, it had a superb plot.
All of the Hollywood studios were now making anti-Nazi films. But none came right out and named Germany or the Nazis as the enemy or bad guys. One must remember that the U.S. was not yet in World War II, although it was aiding Great Britain and the Allies with material support and supplies. While the studios wouldn't directly name Germany or the Nazis as the culprits in these films, anyone who saw them knew who the enemy represented.
"The Mortal Storm" was the most obvious anti-Nazi film. And, one that everyone who saw it knew immediately that it was about Nazi Germany. It was set in Bavaria and it was the first film that made reference to German concentration camps. In this case, it would be Dachau. So, it seems a little strange that this film wouldn't dare to be a little more explicit about the enemy.
Aside from that, it's another good plot. And yet the screenplay is weak and the film is choppy in places. There's much bouncing around in this film, but the cast are mostly good. It's the weakness of the script, direction, editing and other production aspects that set "Sky Murder" back.
Walter Pidgeon's Nick Carter is again helped by his shadow, Donald Meek as Bartholomew, the bee-man. Kaaren Verne plays Pat Evans, Edward Ashley is Cortland Grand, and Joyce Compton is Christine Cross. Modern audiences probably wouldn't care much for this film, but it's somewhat fun with the touch of humor from Nick and his shadow, and the solving of a couple of murders and catching the Nazi - whoops! - the anonymous foreign underground.