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This time around, Japanese supersleuth Mr Moto (Peter Lorre) together
with his new sidekick wrestler Twister McGurk (Warren Hymer) arrives in
Puerto Rico to investigate a diamond smuggling ring, an investigation that
has already cost his predecessor his life. The fact that the chief of
police Captain Castle (Charles D.Brown) refuses to cooperate with him
because he fears being sent into early retirement is not exactly
encouraging, but it's more puzzling for Moto that apparently everybody has
been informed about his arrival, not only the chief of police and the
gouvernor (Paul Harvey), but also a wide array of corrupt politicians and
shady businessmen - in other words, all of Moto's suspects. Then the
gouvernor is murdered, and Captain Castle is immediately suspected by
everyone - everyone but Moto that is, who has his own ideas. Then Captain
Castle disappears together with his daughter (Amanda Duff), which is as
good as a confession in everyone's eyes - only Moto disagrees. Then it's
revealed that Moto isn't Moto but a criminal, and suddenly, Moto and
McGurk find themselves on the run.
Moto is or course indeed Moto, but he
had his associates send a cable to go underground undercover - he figures
as a wanted man it would be much easier for him to get near the hideout of
the smuggling ring. And indeed, the plan works like a charm, in no time he
has tracked down the baddies in the swamp, using an old pirate hideout as
their headquarters, and holding Captain Castle and daughter as hostages,
planning to use them as scapegoats later on. Moto and McGurk don't really
agree with the smugglers' boss Captain Dahlen (Eddie Marr) though, so he
has them detained ... but they escape in no time, have their names
cleared, and return with the police. Dahlen makes a daring escape by boat,
but is shot ... but Moto has him rushed into a nearby hospital to save his
life, because he figures Dahlen must have worked under someone's orders.
He invites all those he suspects to an interrogation later on ... and
wouldn't you know it, someone kills Dahlen before the interrogation can
take place - but that was exactly the trap set by Moto: Dahlen was
actually shot dead back when he tried to escape, but Moto decided to use
his corpse as bait. And Moto is always one to get the fish, er, culprit,
and as usual, it's the guy who looked the least suspicious (Jean
Hersholt), one of the many businessmen populating the movie.
tired series mystery that replaces a well-structured mystery plot with an
overpopulated mess, pulls a random culprit out of the hat eventually
rather than having the events building up to it, and relying too much on a
character (Hymer's McGurk) for comic relief that's not properly integrated
into the story. That said, the film is not a total trainwreck, there are
hundreds of series mysteries not much better than this one, it's just not
something to get really excited about.
By the way, the film
started life as a Charlie
Chan film, to be called Charlie Chan in Trinidad, but
Chan had to be replaced with Mr Moto due to the untimely death of
Chan-actor Warner OIand. Interestingly though, the plot is based on the
novel Murder in Trinidad by John W.Vandercook, which features
neither Chan nor Moto and which has been filmed another two times, in 1934
as Murder in Trinidad, and in 1945 as Caribbean Mystery,
both times without the added attraction of an Oriental detective.