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Think Fast, Mr. Moto

USA 1937
produced by
Sol M. Wurtzel (executive) for 20th Century Fox
directed by Norman Foster
starring Peter Lorre, Virginia Field, Thomas Beck, Sig Ruman, Murray Kinnell, John Rogers, Lotus Long, George Cooper, J. Carrol Naish, Frederick Vogeding, Richard Alexander, George Hassell, William Law, Sammee Tong, Louis Mercier, Frank Mayo, Lee Phelps
screenplay by Norman Foster, Howard Ellis Smith, based on a novel by John P. Marquand, music by R.H. Bassett, Samuel Kaylin

Mr. Moto

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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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.

That all 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 ...

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
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cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD