Mr. Moto Takes a Vacation
Sol M. Wurtzel (executive) for 20th Century Fox
directed by Norman Foster
starring Peter Lorre, Joseph Schildkraut, Lionel Atwill, Virginia Field, John 'Dusty' King, Iva Stewart, G.P. Huntley, Victor Varconi, John Bleifer, Honorable Wu, Morgan Wallace, Anthgony Warde, Harry Strang, John Davidson, Willie Best
screenplay by Philip MacDonald, Norman Foster, based on a character created by John P.Marquand, music by Samuel Kaylin
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At an excavation, archeologist Howard Stevens (John 'Dusty' King) finds
the legendary crown of the Queen of Sheba, one of the most valuable items
ever, so it's no wonder that criminals left and right want to get their
hands on it, including the legendary Metaxa - whose identity is a mystery
though. Fortunately though, supersleuth busybody Mr. Moto (Peter Lorre) is
on board to grant it a safe passage to San Francisco at least - but once
there, the crown is almost immediately stolen by a bunch of gangsters, and
it falls not upon Mr Moto but incapable Scotland Yard detective Archie
Featerhstone (G.P. Huntley) of all people that it's retrieved again and
safely delivered to a high security museum.
After much two and fro, two
parties after the crown are identified and subsequently arrested, on one
hand there's gangster Joe Rubla (Anthony Warde), whose approach is rather
crude though, on the other there's "insurance agent" Borodoff
(Victor Varconi), whose accomplice Eleanor (Virginia Field) pretty much
threw herself at Howard Stevens on the passage to San Francisco to divert
his attention. Problem is, neither is Metaxa. In a rather surprise twist,
Moto all of a sudden has the museum's curator (Lionel Atwill) arrested,
claiming he is Metaxa - which causes his prime financier, limping and
frail Manderson (Joseph Schildkraut) to sneak away and try to steal the
crown ... but he only walks right into Moto's trap, who has long found out
he is much younger than he looks (or is made up to appear), and after an
extended fistfight during which Moto and Manderson/Metaxa trash half of
the museum's items, Moto of course manages to apprehend him and hand him
over to the police.
The less than special conclusion to the Mr.
Moto-series (that has run out of steam long before this film)
really hasn't that much to offer: While the plot is overly convoluted, it
contains little actual mystery, the identity of Metaxa can easily be
spotted thanks to a rather sloppy makeup job, G.P. Huntley makes a
terrible and most annoying comic relief, and the big fistfight in the
finale that at least features major destruction is not milked for nearly
its full (comical) potential.
In all, not a total shipwreck (at least
the cast is pretty good) but a series mystery that one could have easily