Playboy Bob Hitchings (Thomas Beck) is sent to Shanghai by boat by his
father (George Hassell), o0wner of a big shipping line, to track down and
root out a gang of smugglers who use his shipping line as their preferred
mode of transportation - much to the dismay of the company. At the same
time, Bob is also supposed to learn responsibility, once he's doing honest
work. However, work as such doesn'T cross the mind of the young man while
on the boat to Shanghai, as he spends his entire time romancing Gloria
(Virginia Field), a woman who seems to have some kind of secret though and
is actually in league with the smugglers.
However, while Bob couldn't
care less about smuggling and the like, Mr Moto (Peter Lorre), whom he has
become friends with during the trip, seems to be all the more interested
in the subject, without revealing anything about this to Bob of course ...
and it'S not quite clear whose side he's on.
In Shanghai, Bob is
welcomed by Wilke (Murray Kinnell), his father's branch manager, who is a
bit too keen on sending him to errands right away, but loses sight of
Gloria, whom he soon tries to track down with a passion despite all of
Wilke's objections - but to no avail. Eventually though, Bob receives a
note telling him to look for her at the International Club, which he
visits with Wilke, and where he bumps into Moto and finds out Gloria is
the resident entertainer. Bob soon hooks up with Gloria, and she tells him
everything, that she's working for the smugglers who also own the club,
but that she loves him nevertheless. Soon, both her and him are taken
captive by the club's personnel.
Moto meanwhile hooks uop with Marloff
(Sig Ruman), the club's boss, and tries to strike a deal with him because
he has diamonds that need a bit of smuggling - when Wilke appears on the
scene, messing everything up, exposing Moto as a police spy and killing
Marloff in an accident. When the police arrives at the scene, everything
seems to be already over, but Moto has seen through Wilke's pretense long
ago and now puts the cuffs on him. Turns out to be though that Moto wasn't
a police spy at all, but merely a business partner of Bob's dad who has
decided to do a bit of snooping on his own when the smuggling started to
interfere with his business.
And Bob and Gloria are finally allowed to
leave into a better future.
After 20th Century Fox had
been successful with their Charlie
Chan-series for years for years, they decided it was high time
to launch another series about another Oriental supersleuth
well-established in pulp literature, and their choice was John
P.Marquand's Mr. Moto, a character comfortably close in
basic premise to Charlie
Chan. As a launchpad for a new series though, Think Fast,
Mr. Moto is sort of disappointing, the story it tells is as
run-of-the-mill as it is confusing, it pretty much lacks all of the horror
that had made the Charlie
Chan-films so entertaining, and while Peter Lorre is no doubt
a great actor, and his Oriental makeup is even adequate for the time the
film was made, he just fails to convince as a Japanese due to the thick
Austrian accent - that was otherwise his trademark of course.
said, Think Fast, Mr. Moto did well enough with contemporary
audiences to launch a series, and it is by no means the worst film ever
seen, not even the worst of the series - but that said it'S also little
more than a run-of-the-mill mystery you will most probably have forgotten
in a couple of days ...