Mr. Moto poses as both an innocuous archaeologist and aged Buddhist mystic in French-ruled Cambodia in order to foil two anti-government revolutionary plots, one by fanatical holy man Bokor, who wants to overthrow the local leader, the self-indulgent Rajah Ali, and Ali himself, who wants to lead an insurgency against French colonial rule. Moto is aided by Vicki Mason, a daring Amelia Earhart-type aviatrix, who doubles as an international agent, and manages to rescue two bumbling newsreel photographers, Chick Davis and Marty Weston, the latter of whom seems to be attracted to the stunningly beautiful Miss Mason.Written by
The characters are what make this movie intriguing, and stupid.....at the same time! One is never quite sure who is what except we know Mr. Moto is a good guy and the two cameramen are innocent but too goofy. This, the fourth in the Peter Lorre-starred series of Moto films, re minded me of the Monogram latter-day Charlie Chan films, with Mantan Moreland, in which some silliness sometimes overtook the crime story. It also reminded me a bit of some old Tarzan films where you see stock footage of animals.
The mystery starts right in the beginning when we see "Victoria Mason," a Amelia Earheart- type female who flying solo around the world, suddenly sabotaging her plane and parachuting to safety. We never find out until the end what that was all about. The pretty and nicely- shaped Rochelle Hudson plays Victoria.
Anyway, to summarize briefly, the story is about a few Cambodian revolutionaries and a secret tomb- like cache for munitions. Along the way, we see Lorre in another one of his disguises, this one as an old "guru" with magical powers. I do enjoy Moto's disguises even though they fool everyone but us, the audience.
The story is fair, nothing super, but the characters in here are odd, which is good because it keeps our interest in the film. The silliness is supplied by a two-man American two-man film crew working the jungles of Cambodia. Robert Kent and Chick Chandler play "Marty" and "Chick," respectively. Yes, an actor named Chick playing a guy named Chick!.They are more like Abbott and Costello than documentary filmmakers, and their lines are really dumb most of the time.
What looked even more unrealistic but, in reality, wasn't as much as I thought, were the two main characters of from the host country in this story. They are George Regas, who plays the villain "Bokar" and J. Edward Bromberg who plays "Rajah Ali." Both these guys look and sound American, especially Bromber but Regas, who looks like comedian Henny Youngman, is from Greece and Bromberg is from Hungary/Romania! Go figure!
Hudson was an attractive actress whom I remember from the 1935 Shirley Temple movie "Curly Top," in which she was only 19 but looked more mature. When this film was shot, she was 22 or 23 and still could have passed for a good-looking 30-year-old. Sadly, this actress died of pneumonia while only in her 50s.
Anyway, if you don't mind some of the sappy dialog and you still enjoy Lorre and his disguises, this Moto episode should be worth your time checking out. It's a pretty fast-moving story and these restored editions out on DVD offer outstanding transfers. They really look good!
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