A Japanese man claiming to be Mr Moto, of the International Police, is abducted and murdered soon after disembarking from a ship at Port Said in Egypt. The real Mr Moto is already in Port Said, investigating a conspiracy against the British and French governments. The dead man was his colleague, impersonating him to throw the conspirators off his scent. Mr Moto recognises one of the conspirators as a British Secret Service agent, and together they discover that the gang have mined the harbour in preparation for the arrival of the French fleet. Their aim is to throw the blame onto the British, which may start a second World War.Written by
Daniel Frankham <danielf@my-Deja.com>
Coincidence: Three actors in this film have connections to Austria. Though he was born in New York, Ricardo Cortez's parents came from Austria-Hungary. Peter Lorre was himself from Austria-Hungary. Though she was British, Virginia Field, went to school for a time in Vienna, Austria, as did Lorre. See more »
When Fabian is fighting with Connie after she overheard his plans, he says if it weren't for him she'd be 'rotting in Dartmoor Prison'.
Dartmoor Prison is a real prison, but houses only men. See more »
Admiral Lord Streetly:
The two French squadrons are here now, Benthum, off Tunis. They plan to sail directly to Port Said and proceed through the canal and join our fleet for their maneuvers in the Red Sea.
When exactly will they reach the canal?
Admiral Lord Streetly:
We had a wire from the French Admiral this morning, says, "Fleet arrives Port Said, 23 o'clock, 16 instant, compliments, Delacour Admiral, Commanding."
That's even less time than I thought. Isn't it possible to delay them somehow?
See more »
You're my thrill
Music by Jay Gorney (uncredited)
Played on Victrola in Fabian's room See more »
very entertaining spy fantasy
The Mr. Moto films went out of circulation immediately after Pearl Harbor. As we can see in this film, they reflected a hope that circulated in John P. Marquand's England (and had some currency in the US) that a reasonably 'civilized' (in the European sense) Japan could be negotiated with over China and then used for political leverage against Russia and Germany. This film was released in early 1939; by September of that year, Germany was in Poland, and England and France were allied against it, so the basic premise of the film was made worthless. Shortly after, the Japanese kicked the British out of China, so the basic hope underlying the film became worthless. The film is thus best approached as a kind of fantasy.
It is, specifically, a spy thriller, not a mystery at all; it's more closely related to the James Bond films (which are also largely fantasies) than to the Charlie Chan style 'oriental detective' movies of its own day.
This is the only widely - and cheaply - available Moto film. I've only seen one other Mr. Moto film, a long time ago, and I don't remember it well. It was a fairly faithful adaptation from the original Marquand material, and seemed very complicated, much as the Marquand novels can be. This film, to the contrary, is an original story. It is streamlined and linear in plotting. It appears to have been made rather quickly on not a lot of money, but the film-making is strictly professional. The pacing avoids a lot of lags, and there are moments of real suspense and real surprise.
Thus we have a well-made, enjoyable genre film here; but the main delight of the film is undoubtedly the performance of Peter Lorre. Lorre achieved some respect in Germany and England before coming to Hollywood - where, alas, he was not treated well, as the type for which he was usually cast - 'suspicious foreigner' - was very narrow. Mr. Moto here allows Lorre a star-turn, a hero's part, and surprisingly considerable latitude in interpretation. He is obviously having a grand time here, and delivers a wonderful performance.
Overall, an excellent B-movie, very entertaining if taken on its own terms.
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