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Mysterious Mr. Moto

USA 1938
produced by
Sol M. Wurtzel for 20th Century Fox
directed by Norman Foster
starring Peter Lorre, Mary Maguire, Henry Wilcoxon, Erik Rhodes, Harold Huber, Leon Ames, Forrester Harvey, Frederick Vogeding, Lester Matthews, John Rogers, Karen Sorrell (= Lotus Long), Mitchell Lewis
screenplay by Norman Foster, Philip MacDonald, based on the character created by John P.Marquand, music by Charles Maxwell

Mr. Moto

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Brissac (Leon Ames), a convicted murderer, flees from Devil's Island thanks to his Japanese cellmate, whose passage to Europe he pays as a thank you. Days later, Brissac arrives in London with a diplomat's passport (forged of course), with his cellmate and saviour in tow as his servant. In London, he soon conspires with Litmar (Harold Huber) and Brujo (Frederick Vogeding) to kill Czech steel king Darvak (Henry Wilcoxon), shouldn't he give up some very special steel formula that can be used for the manufacture of weapons. Darvak however doesn't take their threats seriously - which is too bad, too, since they are members of the League of Assassins, a multinational killer-for-hire organisation that many perceive little more than a myth, yet everybody fears them.

However, Darvak needn't worry too much, because Brissac's cellmate who has become his servant is actually Japanese supersleuth Mr. Moto (Peter Lorre).

But why help Brissac escape in the first place, why not report his whereabouts to Scotland Yard?

Because Moto wants to infiltrate the gang to find out who their leader is. After some investigations and even more to and fro though, Brissac and company have found out who Mr. Moto is, and try to lure him into a death trap, but thanks to his agility and his jiu jitsu skills he manages to escape.

Finally, Moto overhears the trap the baddies want to lure Darvak into, they want to drop a chandelier onto him during an exhibition. Moto promises Darvak, who has finally realized the seriousness of his situation, to guard his life at all costs, but then he's lured away by the baddies to save one of his agents(Lotus Long). But fortunately, Darvak's best friend, the normally utterly useless David (Erik Rhodes), has organized two bodyguards from Scotland Yard - too bad then that they are two of Brissac's men ...

At the exhibition, Moto turns up again, disguised as a German starving artist insulting everyone in the room - until he lures David under the chandelier meant to fall on Darvak and sees that it falls on David instead. Then he has all the baddies rounded up and personally takes care of Brissac. You see, David really was the mysterious head of the League of Assassins, and Moto found out because the baddies were informed about each and every of David's steps a bit too well to not have gotten the information from some of his intimate friends ...


A fast-moving thriller with plenty of action and an almost plausible plot on one hand, this is on the other hand also a very routine series mystery in which the identity of the villain is given away (involuntarily) way too early in the plot (David was portrayed as just so useless it had to be him), and in which Peter Lorre once again proves he is not Japanese (though him pretending to be Brissac's heavily accented servant at least is funny) but he comes across quite convincingly as starving German artist (and amusingly so, I might add).

Oh well, absolutely not a must-see, but I guess there are way worse films to waste an hour and a bit on.


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
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




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


A Killer Conversation

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

out now on DVD