When a chemical manufacturer is killed after asking detective James Wong to help him, Wong investigates this and two subsequent murders. He uncovers a international spy ring hoping to steal... See full summary »
A Japanese man claiming to be Mr Moto, of the International Police, is abducted and murdered soon after disembarking from a ship at Port Said in Egypt. The real Mr Moto is already in Port Said, investigating a conspiracy against the British and French governments. The dead man was his colleague, impersonating him to throw the conspirators off his scent. Mr Moto recognises one of the conspirators as a British Secret Service agent, and together they discover that the gang have mined the harbour in preparation for the arrival of the French fleet. Their aim is to throw the blame onto the British, which may start a second World War. Written by
Daniel Frankham <danielf@my-Deja.com>
The sign for the Sultana Theatre appears to advertise the film Charlie Chan in Honolulu, but it clearly reads "Starring Warner Oland", and that film featured Sidney Toler, not Oland, as Charlie Chan. However, this is very likely not an error but done in tribute to the recently deceased Mr. Oland, a longtime Fox contract star. See more »
Moto's first name "Kentaro" suggests he's meant to be Japanese instead of Chinese, and besides TCF already has a Chinese sleuth in Charlie Chan. Then too, when Chan is in a scene, he's always the center of attention. But not so with the recessive Moto. Note how he kind of lurks around the edges. Sometimes you even forget he's there. It's a really shrewd way to use the cagey Lorre since physically he's hardly a commanding presence. But he does convey a sly and calculating presence, such that when Moto chooses to pounce, he's very believable. It's a cleverly thought out character, a distinctive contrast to the many other sleuths of the period.
Of course, Moto is not really a sleuth; instead, he's an agent of international intrigue. Sort of an unglamorous, non-gimmicky James Bond of the 1930's, skilled in what was then the exotic martial arts. The narrative contains no mystery, only the suspense of how Moto will foil an international plot to blow up French ships and start a war. What lifts this entry above standard series entries of the day are the production values. Notice the diving-bell sequence and how well done it is, both in detail and in concept. Cheaper productions could not have mounted this set-piece. Also, the sets are better furnished than normal, lending more atmosphere to the results. True, the action never leaves the back lot, but the attention to detail really helps. I also like the business going on in the background of the seedy saloon, where for example a drunk gets his nose plopped into a flagon of beer. It's colorful touches like this that raise a production above the routine.
There's also the eerie business with the ventriloquist's dummy. I kept wondering if someone connected with that great British horror trilogy Dead of Night (1945) had seen this programmer. My only reservations are with the sometimes hard-to-follow screenplay and with George Sanders' awful French accent. Odd too, to find the imposing Sanders in such a secondary rolelikely the result of being under contract. Anyway, it's a colorful little entry in the Moto series.
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