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Phantom Raiders (1940)

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Bud Brewster
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 06, 2019 9:54 pm    Post subject: Phantom Raiders (1940) Reply with quote

This 1940 action adventure is almost science fiction!

A charismatic, soft-spoken villain with an Austrian accent has an electronic device hidden in a wall safe that sends out an electronic signal which causes explosives charges hidden inside old-style radios on several freighters. The signal transmitted by the bad guy's device causes the hidden explosives to blow up the ships at sea so he can collect the insurance.


Walter Pidgeon plays a world famous sleuth and dapper ladies man named Nick Carter, who is sent to Panama with his wisecracking little sidekick (played by Donald Meek), whose nickname is Beewax because he carries live bees in his pocket and uses them to startle bad guys when they pull on gun him!

I know that sounds ridiculous, but this movie masterfully weaves wacky ideas into a serious plot, with absolutely none of the painfully forced comic relief that other movies from the 1940s often have.

Carter courts a hot little Hispanic babe wearing white gardenias in her hair and low-cut gowns, and she provides a running joke which had me chuckling throughout the entire movie.

The little gal doesn't understand a word of English, but she loves to spout common phrases she's learned from the sailors who hang around her. Every time Walter tries to talk to her she just grins beautifully and replies with statements which have nothing to do with what Walter is saying! Very Happy

Things like —

"Step on the gas, kid! There ain't a cop in sight!"

"Ooow, what about the poor sailors on a night like this?"

"Sure Mike! Hello big boy! You're telling me!"

"Set them up in the other alley, kid. I'll be back in a flash!"

Pidgeon's character is smoother than nylon stockings on a pair of shapely legs as he romances the Panamanian beauty and outwits the bad guys with Bond-like ease.

The chemistry between Walter and Donald is delightful. As a team, they're a well-oiled machine, with a playbook of familiar strategies they go right into with hardly a word between them.

I was impressed by the fact that Donald was never just a clueless little sidekick who ran errands and blindly followed orders without knowing what his partner was planning. Walter actually relies on Donald to do his share of the thinking!

In fact, Donald is the practical one of the team, making sure that Walter doesn't get distracted from their mission by the lovely senorita who babbles nonsense and mesmerizes Walter with her come-hither-señor glances.

Cecil Kellaway, the adorable little professors from Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (far right in the picture below) plays the reluctant accomplice in the villain's ship-sinking scheme. Poor Cecil is desperately in need of cash, but he's deeply troubled by the deaths of the poor sailors on the sabotaged ships.

Dwight Frye is in the cast as well, but I'm not sure who he played. I never managed to spot him.

This movie is like a version of The Thin Man series with Nick and Nora Charles (played by William Powell and Myrna Loy), but with a young Walter Pidgeon gallivanting around Panama with his buddy Donald Meeks, while Mr. Pidgeon juggles his investigation and his romantic inclinations while Donald struggles to keep Walter on task so they can complete their mission and earn their $5,000 fee!

Here's the trailer for this rare masterpiece. Cool

_____ Phantom Raider (Original Theatrical Trailer)


If any of you kind folks enjoyed this post, please leave a reply. Otherwise how will I know if anybody even read it? Confused
Is there no man on Earth who has the wisdom and innocence of a child?

Last edited by Bud Brewster on Wed Jan 09, 2019 1:59 pm; edited 2 times in total
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 07, 2019 4:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There were three Nick Carter films, starring Walter Pidgeon. The first was "Nick Carter, Mater Detective", 1939, then "Phantom Raiders", finally "Sky Murders", 1941.

This is the only Nick Carter film I have seen, and I like it very much, and I would love to see the others. I know that they have been shown on TCM.

Nick Carter had a catchphrase during his wrap ups. When a suspect would object to his theory, Nick would reply, if I'm wrong, I'll apologize. I have to admit to using that phrase a few times, myself.

Bartholomew, the Bee Man is probably the oddest sidekick ever. Despite that, he is also one of the most competent.

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