20 user 5 critic

Mysterious Mr. Moto (1938)

Approved | | Crime, Drama, Mystery | 14 October 1938 (USA)
Mr. Moto has himself imprisoned on Devil's Island so he can help his cellmate escape and thereby get the goods on a gang of international killers.


Norman Foster


Philip MacDonald (original screenplay), Norman Foster (original screenplay) | 1 more credit »




Complete credited cast:
Peter Lorre ... Mr. Moto
Mary Maguire ... Ann Richman
Henry Wilcoxon ... Anton Darvak
Erik Rhodes ... David Scott-Frensham
Harold Huber ... Ernst Litmar
Leon Ames ... Paul Brissac
Forrester Harvey ... George Higgins
Frederick Vogeding Frederick Vogeding ... Gottfried Brujo (as Fredrik Vogeding)
Lester Matthews ... Sir Charles Murchison
John Rogers John Rogers ... Sniffy
Lotus Long ... Lotus Liu (as Karen Sorrell)
Mitchell Lewis ... Nola


Mr. Moto has himself imprisoned on Devil's Island so he can help his cellmate escape and thereby get the goods on a gang of international killers.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Peter Lorre gives you your greatest thrill


Approved | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


This was the first in the series to have an original screenplay written by popular British mystery novelist Philip MacDonald. See more »


David Scott-Frensham: But, my dear girl, one can't rush around London killing people. It isn't done.
See more »


Followed by Mr. Moto in Danger Island (1939) See more »

User Reviews

Not so softly....
10 August 2008 | by steveresselSee all my reviews

The Moto films were 'cheaps', made quickly and inexpensively, and also rather short to pack in with other films for a cinema experience packed with a variety of films in a string. Where most other films of the time have either risen to heights through brilliance or, as most have done, fallen from interest completely due to mediocre or lackluster efforts, the Moto films have found quite an enthusiastic audience that still thrills to the honest, entertaining portrayal of an exotic crime fighter.

Mysterious Mr. Moto is the first film in the series where the crew seems to have 'gotten it together'. The acting, acing, story, and film work were all quite a notch above the previous three. Though the stories are always rather linear they keep an audience by balancing thrills, violence, mystery, character and mild romance.

The criticism of racism is odd. Lorre plays the character slightly off Japanese, his accent being obviously Germanic, but his mannerisms are keen. Moto is an American schooled Japanese, which was very typical in those days, and it gives him an obvious bridge in understanding western culture. It is a pity they didn't find more Asians to fill key roles in these films, but generally the American actors used were quite good despite looking too Caucasian. I can forgive authenticity for acting ability, especially in the days when there were few stories written for Asians.

Moto always comes off as a powerhouse. He's an admirable figure for anyone undersized in a brutal world. Kids must have loved Moto in the day as he proved someone tiny could trash giant brutes with guns and ham hock fists. He's a great roll model for more than just Asians or Japanese, he's a hero for everyone. These films are fun, matinée film that portrayed the shrinking world with a metropolitan and international flavor. I think they are admirable. Lorre proved himself adept beyond any doubt with these movies. They are a credit to the entire crew.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Release Date:

14 October 1938 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Mysterious Mr. Moto See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Twentieth Century Fox See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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