Mr Moto encounters mysterious goings-on on a ship bound for Shanghai. He recognises his steward as the murderer of a man in San Francisco, and catches him trying to steal an important letter from the stateroom of another passenger, Robert Hitchings. Hitchings, son of the owner of the shipping line, falls in love with Gloria, who refuses to tell him anything about her life and disappears when they arrive in Shanghai. In Shanghai, Mr Moto uncovers the secret which links the murder in San Francisco, the mysterious letter, and Gloria.Written by
Daniel Frankham <danielf@my-Deja.com>
Ah! the 1930's! A time when it was generally perceived that anything that came out of the Orient was a threat. The Yellow Peril loomed over all of Western Europe and America, so it was to be believed, with the likes of Fu Manchu and his minions and other deadly men out to take over the world. Despite this generalized, popular stereotype, Hollywood made strings of films with Oriental detectives that, while still unfortunately maintaining certain Oriental prejudices and mannerisms, bucked this trend with the likes of the wise, sententious Charlie Chan, the inimitable Mr. Wong, and Mr. Moto of course. None of the series used Oriental actors, but the films gave the likes of Warner Oland, Sidney Toler, Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, and Peter Lorre jobs. The Mr. Moto series, based on the works of John Marquand, began with Think Fast, Mr. Moto. The film is somewhat confusing in spots, but generally a rousing success of creating an endearing screen character that went on to make several more films. Mr. Moto, unlike Chan or Wong, is Oriental yet very Western in many ways. He is quiet, circumspect, wearing very small rounded glasses. Lorre captured his character wonderfully. The story details how Moto is following the workings of a smuggling ring in Singapore. He travels from San Francisco to the Orient on a luxury liner, where he meets the son of the tycoon that owns the boat and who also may have information that can lead Moto to the smugglers. A pretty good mystery that was not real hard to figure out at the end. It's Lorre's portrayal that gives the film real life, and definitely has set me out to see the other films in the series. By the way, great character actor Sig Ruman plays the heavy...quite nicely!
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