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>
I love these Moto flicks. I'll tell you that right out of the gate, and the history of these low budget detective films is almost more interesting then the films themselves. First of all, Peter Lorre was one of the most underrated actors in cinema history. In fact, those who knew him thought he would have been a psychiatrist had he not been an actor, which tells me he studied people and learned a lot about how a little goes a long way in a portrayal. The director reportedly wanted character actor J. Edward Bromberg to play the lead but the studio gave him this Hungarian Jew just out of Hitler's Germany to play the part, which made the director go berserk. He needn't have worried.
Forget the fact that Lorre was in such poor health in those days after starving in Europe for most of his adult life and had to have a stuntman do his jiu-jitsu scenes for him. (Harvey Parry was his name. Another underrated genius in cinema history who did stunts for everyone from Douglas Fairbanks Sr. to Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd) Lorre is just terrific and with almost no make-up, he is damned convincing as a Japanese detective.
A short side note here. Please pretend that there was never a 1960s Moto movie with Henry Silva. The eight 20th Century Fox Motos are to be treasured. It's only a shame that World War II stopped the series for good.
As for J. Edward Bromberg, he even acted in one of the Moto films as a Rajah in Thailand (which acerbic yet clever critic referred to as "Indoors China") before he was hurt by the blacklist and died a sad and broken man, who unintentionally hurt the career of actress Lee Grant when she attended his funeral and was herself blacklisted until the movie "In The Heat Of The Night."
Watching Peter Lorre in any film is always a delight and the Motos never disappoint for pure entertainment value.
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