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Nick Carter, Master Detective (1939)

Passed  -  Crime | Mystery | Drama  -  15 December 1939 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.0/10 from 260 users  
Reviews: 17 user | 9 critic

Detective Nick Carter is brought in to foil spies at the Radex Airplane Factory, where a new fighter plane is under manufacture.



(screen play), (based on a story by), 1 more credit »
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Title: Nick Carter, Master Detective (1939)

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Complete credited cast:
Nick Carter / Robert Chalmers
Rita Johnson ...
Lou Farnsby
John A. Keller
Stanley Ridges ...
Doctor Frankton (as Stanley C. Ridges)
Addison Richards ...
Hiram Streeter
Henry Victor ...
J. Lester Hammil
Dave Krebs
Otto King
Wally Maher ...
Cliff Parsons
Edgar Dearing ...


Famed New York detective Nick Carter arrives incognito at a California airplane factory at the behest of owner Hiram Streeter. Despite seemingly thorough precautions, a gang of saboteurs and shadowy foreign agents are able to smuggle out the secret blueprints for innovative new planes and sabotage prototypes during testing. With the aid of eccentric detective Bartholomew and spunky nurse and female pilot Lou Farnsby, Carter is able to expose the fifth columnists as well as the traitors that are helping them. Written by

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


THE WIZARD OF CLUES!!! Nick Carter lives again in the fierce brutal...dangerous era of TODAY!


Crime | Mystery | Drama


Passed | See all certifications »




Release Date:

15 December 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Nick Carter, Master Detective  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer bought the screen rights to all the 1,100 Nick Carter stories published in the 1930s. However, all 3 of the films made in the Nick Carter series were based on original stories. See more »


Hiram Streeter: Sounds like a wild theory to me.
Nick Carter: Well, it isn't a theory because I don't deal in theories. Look, I'm not a storybook detective with, uh, a highball glass in one hand and, uh, a Chinese proverb in another, nor can I tell you from the ashes of a man's cigar that he, uh, had kippered herring for breakfast and hit his grandmother over the head with an axe. I'm just a New York flatfoot, the product of the McGonigle School.
Hiram Streeter: What's that?
Nick Carter: Oh, old Patrick McGonigle, he was an Irish cop when I broke into...
See more »


Followed by Sky Murder (1940) See more »

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User Reviews

NICK CARTER, MASTER DETECTIVE (Jacques Tourneur, 1939) **1/2
10 February 2011 | by (Naxxar, Malta) – See all my reviews

Tourneur's first feature was basically a B-movie, albeit made for slick-but-superficial MGM; at a mere 60 minutes, it is eminently watchable and, given the film's modest reputation, it proves surprisingly enjoyable. Watched after the same director's CIRCLE OF DANGER (1951) and the somewhat similar ROUGH SHOOT (1953), this provides yet another connection to Fritz Lang's MAN HUNT (1941) in leading man Walter Pidgeon.

The central figure was a popular crime-fighter in print, debuting in 1886 and reportedly involved in over a 1,000 cases before transferring to a 12-year stint on the radio between 1943-55. However, only 3 films were ever made and, bafflingly, they all turned out to be based on original scripts (since such characters' exploits were, in any case, being updated to the prevalent wartime aura – for instance, the contemporaneous Sherlock Holmes series); incidentally, I just found out that the second one, PHANTOM RAIDERS (1940), was also directed by Tourneur! Anyway, the narrative here involves secret aviation plans being leaked to the enemy that climaxes in a far-fetched chase sequence involving a plane and a speeding boat.

Apart from leading lady Rita Johnson, the rather-too-jovial star is ably supported here by the likes of Henry Hull (already playing eccentric old types!), Stanley Ridges (type-cast as a villain), Martin Kosleck (ditto) and Donald Meek. The latter's hilarious characterization, of an improbably zany private eye, seems to have dropped in from another movie altogether: keeping bees as a hobby but constantly getting into the hero's hair, he even ends up deposited in the trash-can!

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