Detective James Lee Wong is on the scene as archaeologist Dr. John Benton, recently returned from an expedition in China where a valuable ancient scroll was recovered, is murdered while giving a lecture on the expedition.
The Japanese character, Mr. Moto, disguises himself as a German as part of the plot when in fact a Germanic (actually Austro-Hungarian) actor, Peter Lorre, is portraying a Japanese detective. See more »
One of the weakest gimmicks in the Sol Wurtzel-Peter Lorre Moto series was Moto's occasional attempts to lurk about in disguise a la Sherlock Holmes. It's surprising therefore that one of the most successful (and dramatically strongest) films in the series featured Moto doing an extended undercover operation as "Ito," the pidgen-English-speaking Japanese houseboy of a British gangster. The scenes in which Ito/Moto is treated with condescending contempt by his employer and roughed up by Cockney barflies are clearly intended to stimulate the audiences' outrage against their stupidly bigoted treatment of "his kind"--racism here being portrayed as a specifically British tendency, in stark contrast to the friendly respect with which Mr. Moto is treated by American characters. Considering that the Moto series itself has been labeled racist--the assumption being that casting the "ugly" Jew Lorre as a Japanese was an insult to Asians, never mind the way the character was actually treated in the films--it may be time to take a more objective second look.
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