Phantom Raiders (1940)

Article #1112 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-31-2004
Posting Date: 8-28-2004
Directed by Jacques Tourneur
Featuring Walter Pidgeon, Donald Meek, Joseph Schildkraut

Nick Carter is hired to investigate a series of mysterious ship explosions that are tied to an insurance racket.

The character of Nick Carter has had a long literary heritage, but he’s never really taken off on the silver screen. This movie was part of a short-lived series featuring Walter Pidgeon as Carter, and this is the only one I’ve seen of the bunch so far. If this one is representative, then it was an energetic, fun and witty series, with Donald Meek stealing the movie as Carter’s strange partner, Mr. ‘Beeswax’ Bartholomew, who not only goes out of his way to make sure that Carter takes the case, but helps him in the oddest of ways throughout the movie. There is a zany humor that runs through this movie, including a woman who knows no English but constantly repeats English phrases that she’s learned from sailors and a well-meaning but rather dim bodyguard (who else but Nat Pendleton) who has to be sent out for walks by the villain to keep him from knowing about his schemes. It’s light but entertaining, and the scene in which Carter uses ‘Beeswax’ in a diversionary tactic to get the villain out of the way so he can search his office is one of the funniest things I’ve seen in a movie like this. The movie also features Cecil Kellaway and Dwight Frye as a hood sent out to kill Carter. The fantastic content consists of a device that can explode bombs from a distance.


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