Mr Moto competes with a gang of ruthless treasure-hunters for possession of seven scrolls which, when brought together, form a map which reveals the location of the tomb of Genghis Khan, reputed to contain fabulous treasure. Moto already has one scroll, but the rest are owned by Prince Chung and his mother, who consider it a sacred duty to their ancestors to protect the scrolls and the secret of the Khan's tomb. Written by
Daniel Frankham <danielf@my-Deja.com>
As Mr. Moto, Peter Lorre is ruthless and amusing...and don't get in a fight with him. Moto usually leaves his opponents dead
"Adventurer, explorer, soldier of fortune...one of the Orient's mysteries. No one knows much about him, except that when he shows up something usually happens." It would be wise to remember, also, that when Kentaro Moto fights an opponent, he most often wins by killing the man.
Mr. Moto (Peter Lorre), in his second film adventure for Twentieth Century Fox, is on the hunt for a rare scroll painting, one of seven that together hold the key to where in the Gobi desert lies the lost tomb of Genghis Khan...a tomb filled with gold, gems and legendary treasure. The scrolls themselves are priceless works of art from the time of Kublai Khan that had been in the possession of a noble handmaiden to the last great Chinese empress. But the seventh had been stolen from her and her son. Mr. Moto is on the trail, but so is a group of unscrupulous collectors and fortune hunters who won't stop at murder to achieve their end.
All this starts out in a caravan crossing the Gobi with Mr. Moto disguised to the nines and fending off a knife-wielding camel driver. Then we're in exotic Pekin (Beijing nowadays) for the rest of the movie, moving from posh hotels filled with wealthy Westerners (and Mr. Moto) wearing white suits and shoes to ancient, crowded streets filled with antique shops, hurrying Chinese, carts, rickshaws and gunmen. The climax is a struggle in a filthy river and aboard a huge junk. Mr. Moto's death toll is not excessive considering the provocations. The scrolls, now united, meet an honorable fate. We even get a bit of philosophy from Mr. Moto to ponder while we struggle for our last breath..."Birth is not a beginning...death is not an end."
Thank You, Mr. Moto works so well because it moves briskly and the Moto character is not condescended to, or at least not much. There also are some vivid character actors to enjoy. Two of my favorites are Sig Ruman as Colonel Tchernov, a wealthy and ruthless man who will have what he wants to have. Ruman, for me, always looked impressive as a nobleman or pompous boor. When I hear his voice and accent, I can't help but smile at the sound of all those comic Nazis he played later in movies such as To Be or Not to Be and Stalag 17. John Carradine shows up as Periera, a small but pungent part as an obsequious and unreliable antiques dealer. Most of all, however, the Mr. Moto movies are such good entertainment because of Peter Lorre. He manages to look innocent while being no one's fool. Lorre gives us a ruthless and amusing portrayal.
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