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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Sky Murder
Directed byGeorge B. Seitz
Written byWilliam R. Lipman
Based onNick Carter (literary character)
Produced byFrederick Stephani
CinematographyCharles Lawton Jr.
Edited byGene Ruggiero
Music byDavid Snell
Distributed byLoew's Inc.
Release date
  • September 27, 1940 (1940-09-27) (US)
Running time
72 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$437,000[1]

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 original screen stories starring the popular literary series character. 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 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]

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • 1940 SKY MURDER - Trailer - Walter Pidgeon
  • Real Crime: Sky Diver Murder or Suicide? Part 1
  • How to Get Away With Murder Trailer



Old friend Cortland Grand summons private detective Nick Carter and his friend "Beeswax" Bartholomew to Washington for as meeting with Senator Monrose, 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, and Andrew Hendon, a polo star suspected of being a spy.

Upon landing, Hendon is discovered murdered, with a nail file belonging to model Pat Evens in his throat. More ominously, three spies waiting on the landing strip are intent on silencing Pat and, getting into 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 but when he goes to rescue his assistant, Kathe, 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.



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


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]


Film reviewer Bosley Crowther, in his The 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]



  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]


  1. ^ a b c "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 (, 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 (, 2019. Retrieved: June 15, 2019.
  9. ^ Eames 1975, p. 165.


  • 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.

External links

This page was last edited on 27 March 2023, at 11:20
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