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Mr. Moto Takes a Chance

USA 1938
produced by
Sol M. Wurtzel (executive) for 20th Century Fox
directed by Norman Foster
starring Peter Lorre, Rochelle Hudson, Robert Kent, J.Edward Bromberg, Chick Chandler, George Regas, Frederick Vogeding, Al Kikume, Gloria Roy, H.W. Gim, James B. Leong, Victor Sen Yung
story by Willis Cooper, Norman Foster, screenplay by Lou Breslow, John Patrick, based on a character created by John P.Marquand, music by Samuel Kaylin

Mr. Moto

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Mr Moto (Peter Lorre) works as harmless archeologist in Indochina when he sees girl pilot Victoria Mason's (Rochelle Hudson) plane crash not far from where he's digging for artefacts. Fortunately, the girl is unhurt though and soon accepted as a guest of honour on the court of Rajah Ali (J.Edward Bromberg). Moto finds evidence that the girl's planecrash was no accident but staged by her, but keeps mum about it.

Enter two newsreel reporters, Marty (Robert Kent) and Chick (Chick Chandler), who want to film Victoria's arrival at the Rajah's court, but then one of the Rajah's wives (Gloria Roy) is killed while they are at it, and they are immediately accused of the crime by the Rajah's high priest Bokor (George Regas) and convicted to death. Moto finds evidence that the woman was not killed by the camera - as Bokor insists - but by an arrow, but again he keeps mum.

The two newsreel reporters are to be executed at an old temple when an eccentric and mysterious guru shows up and convinces Bokor to release them. Bokor, you have to know, plans an uprising against both the Rajah and the French colonial forces, and he has long seen through Moto's disguise as a harmless archeologist and knows he's an agent in the French's employ, but can't do anything against him since Moto is under protection of the Rajah. The mysterious guru though promises to get rid of Moto ... but is later revealed to the audience to be none other than Moto himself who has taken on the persona of the guru to investigate the old temple in peace - which indeed serves as Bokor's arsenal.

Eventually, Victoria is exposed as a British spy working on the same case as Moto - to destroy a ring of gunrunners that supplies Bokor with weapons - and before you know it, she, Moto and the two newsreel reporters find themselves holed up in the old temple surrounded by Bokor's men. Sure, they have access to Bokor's arsenal, but are grossly outnumbered ant thus won't be able to hold out too long.

Then the cavallery arrives, the Rajah's army that quickly overpowers Bokor and his men - but they haven't come to save Moto and company but merely to take possession of Bokor's arsenal so the Rajah can lead a revolution against the French himself.

In the end, though, Moto blows up the temple and all the baddies with it, the good guys manage to make their escape, and Indochina is saved - for the French to rule another day ...

 

From today's point-of-view the pro-colonial rule attitude transported in this film is somewhat questionable - but then again, it's not exactly a good idea to judge a decades-old film by today's standards of political correctness.

Anyways,t he politics of this film aside, this is a lively jungle adventure in which things like realism, plausibility or ethnic and ethnological authencity don't get in the way of telling a fun little story. Sure from an intellectual point of view, this film is above all else sim´ply silly, but it's good if mindless entertainment nevertheless.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
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love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

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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
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WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
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starring
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out now on DVD