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Mr. Moto's Gamble (1938)

Approved | | Crime, Drama, Mystery | 7 April 1938 (USA)
When the #1 heavyweight contender is mysteriously poisoned during a bout, Moto knows that identifying the gambler who placed large bets against him is the key to solving the murder.



(original screenplay), (original screenplay) (as Jerry Cady) | 1 more credit »

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The U.S. government asks Mr. Moto to go to Puerto Rico to investigate diamond smuggling after an earlier investigator is murdered.

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Disguised as a German archaeologist, Moto helps unearth the priceless crown of the legendary Queen of Sheba and sans disguise defends it from a variety of thugs and criminals.

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While investigating the theft of antiquities from an ancient tomb excavation , Charlie discovers that the body of the expedition's leader concealed inside the mummy's wrappings.

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Returning from European exile where she avoided testifying against her criminal associates, a former singer with a tell-all diary is murdered to ensure her silence.

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Bill Steele
Penny Kendall
Jayne Regan ...
Linda Benton
Lieutenant Riggs
Philip Benton
Clipper McCoy
Charles Williams ...
Gabby Marden
Biff Moran
Cliff Clark ...
Eddie Marr ...
Sammy (as Edward Marr)


Bad blood exists between Bill Steele and Frankie Stanton, the leading contenders for the heavyweight title, and a grudge match is scheduled. Steele's knockout victory is tainted by his opponent's untimely death, ostensibly from a concussion caused by hitting the canvas. A post-mortem reveals that poison was somehow introduced into a cut above Stanton's eye although it is unclear how and why. Gambling might seem to be the motive as several of the principle suspects, gamblers Clipper McCoy and Nick Crowder, Stanton's shady manager Jerry Connors, and fight promoter Philip Benton, all seemed to have made wagers on the fight. Benton's spoiled daughter and female reporter Penny Kendall are vying for the affections of Steele, who is now slated to fight for the championship against pugnacious Biff Moran. Lt. Riggs of New York Homicide and Moto, who were spectators at the fight, go on the trail of the murderer following the autopsy results. Moto's prime suspect is a shadowy character named ... Written by Gabe Taverney (duke1029@aol.com)

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Crime | Drama | Mystery


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

7 April 1938 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Mr. Moto's Diary  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Begun as a Charlie Chan film ("Charlie Chan at the Ringside"), but upon difficulties between 20th Century-Fox and Chan star Warner Oland, the script was hastily rewritten to accommodate Fox's other Asian sleuth, Mr. Moto. The presence of Chan's son Lee is evidence of the grafting of one movie onto another series. Series producer Sol Wurtzel specifically ordered the writers to include Keye Luke's character in the revised screenplay. Though it has been reported that Oland's death was the cause for this change from Chan to Moto, it is not the case. This film was released theatrically on 3/25/38, and Oland did not die until August 6th of that same year. See more »


Lee and Knockout are in jail without being searched. If they had been the water pistol would have been found and a quicker solution to the murder. But that's Show Biz. See more »


Kentaro Moto: Much information can be obtained from tongues loosened in anger.
See more »


Featured in Film Breaks: Detectives from the Orient (1999) See more »

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User Reviews

can't help it - I love Peter Lorre
3 December 2012 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Asian detectives, as far as 20th Century Fox was concerned, are interchangeable, so producers had no trouble turning this Charlie Chan film into a Mr. Moto one. Apparently there was some sort of problem between Fox and the current Chan, Warner Oland, so they did a switch. I know some people state the film was switched because Warner Oland died, but he didn't die until five months after this film was released.

Anyway, Mr. Moto is teaching a class in the science of investigation and who should one of his students be but Lee Chan (Keye Luke). And it's quite a cast: Lynn Bari, Slapsie Maxie Rosenbloom, John Hamilton (Perry White from the TV Superman), Ward Bond, and Lon Chaney Jr.

Moto becomes involved in the death of a prize fighter after he's knocked out in the ring, but it turns out the man was murdered with poison on the opponent's glove.

Peter Lorre is just terrific, and while this isn't the greatest Mr. Moto film ever made, he's wonderful. Unfortunately, after Pearl Harbor, Mr. M kind of disappeared.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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