A detective discovers that a colleague’s death is tied into the disappearance of a wealthy playboy’s wife.
The NBC MYSTERY MOVIE (1971) was an umbrella series with three separate shows appearing on a rotating basis. The three shows were COLUMBO, MACMILLAN AND WIFE, and McCLOUD. Each episode was 90 to 120 minutes long – which was why they were called movies. Any mystery geek will tell you that the three shows were hits and the NBC MYSTERY MOVIE was a huge success.
This did not escape rival network ABC’s attention and they wanted their own mystery movie night. But they decided to take a different approach. Rather than create shows around whole new characters they decided to create their umbrella series with rotating shows based on classic detectives. Pilots were made for each of them. The first of those pilots was THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES with Sherlock Holmes. The second was THE ADVENTURES OF NICK CARTER (1972) starring Robert Conrad.
Nick Carter first appeared in 1886 as a dime novel private detective. He was conceived by Ormond G. Smith and created by John R. Coryell. The character has been around for more than a century and after starring in his own magazine for many years he had a series of novels from 1964 to 1990. There was also a Nick Carter radio show, Nick Carter movies (lots of them), and even Nick Carter comic books.
THE ADVENTURES OF NICK CARTER (1972) is a made-for-TV mystery film executive produced by Arthur D. Hilton and Richard Irving and produced by Stanley Kallis. It was directed by Paul Krasny and written by Ken Pettus. It stars Robert Conrad, Pernell Roberts, and Brooke Bundy.
Robert Conrad as NICK CARTER
Pernell Roberts as NEAL DUNCAN
Brooke Bundy as ROXY O’ROURKE
Shelley Winters as BESS TUCKER
Neville Brand as CAPTAIN DAN KELLER
Broderick Crawford as OTIS DUNCAN
Sean Garrison as LLOYD DEAMS
Dean Stockwell as FREDDY DUNCAN
Byron Morrow as SAM BATES
It’s New York City in 1912. Private detective Sam Bates is shot dead while working a case. Bates was Nick Carter’s friend and mentor. He decides to find out who killed his friend.
Bates’ case had something to do with the wealthy Duncan family. Ivy Duncan has disappeared. She was the wife of Freddy Duncan and daughter-in-law of the patriarch Otis Duncan. Ivy’s disappearance and Bates’ killing are somehow tied together.
Otis Duncan claims his family had nothing to do with Bates’ death. But he does hire Carter to find the missing Ivy and at the same time solve Bates’ murder. Carter agrees.
His investigation leads to the involvement of unsavory characters, the appearance of witnesses, and lots of dead bodies as attempts are made on Carter’s life as they try to eliminate him.
Through muscle, brains, and a talent for disguise, Nick Carter finds the answers to all his questions.
- Robert Conrad was known for two things on television – taking off his shirt (which he did repeatedly on both HAWAIIAN EYE  and THE WILD WILD WEST ), and fight scenes (which were elaborate on THE WILD WILD WEST). In this movie, in the very first scene with Nick Carter they find an excuse for him to take off his shirt and get into a fight.
- Not exactly the most exciting plot for a movie. Not that the film is badly written. It’s just that if you’re a mystery fan and a private eye fan you’re not going to find anything original or exciting.
- The film has an all-star cast with the likes of Shelley Winters, Broderick Crawford, Pernell Roberts, Neville Brand – and lots more – but none of them seem to have brought their A game with them. It’s like they phoned in their performances. I was especially disappointed with Shelley Winters.
- I like Robert Conrad’s TV shows, I like his movies, and I like his style. I find the stuff he appears in entertaining, and entertainment is why I watch movies. I found this movie entertaining and a lot of that was because of Robert Conrad.
- Nick Carter uses disguises. I got a kick out of seeing Robert Conrad in all that make-up. For years he was partnered with Ross Martin in THE WILD WILD WEST and Martin got to use the disguises. It was cute to see Conrad do it this time.
- I like that the movie is set in New York City of 1912. I’m a native New Yorker so I get a kick out of any movie that has my hometown in it. I also like period pieces and so here I got two things I like.
As movies go this one is flawed. I had hoped for a gem and got a diamond-in-the-rough. Despite Robert Conrad giving it his best shot, despite the setting and the time period, the movie remains lackluster. So sad!
Now if you think this means I am not going to recommend this movie I’ve got a surprise for you. I do recommend this movie but with certain reservations. I recommend this movie for those of you who like Robert Conrad and his type of movies/TV shows. I also recommend this movie for fans of private eye films. It’s not often we get a story set in 1912. That alone is worth a look-see.
I’ve given you fair warning about what I think is wrong with the movie. Try watching it now and you might be more entertained than disappointed.
I give this movie three grey geeks on our rating scale.
Okay, my peoples. That takes us through the second of these ABC classic mystery movies. The first was THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES, and now we have looked at THE ADVENTURES OF NICK CARTER. Next time we will examine THE RETURN OF CHARLIE CHAN (1973) starring Ross Martin. Until then I want all of you to do me a favor. Tonight, go outside and look at the stars. Then find the brightest and wish upon it. All of you wish for something big – and change the world! Hasta la vista!