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Mr. Moto's Gamble

USA 1938
produced by
John Stone for 20th Century Fox
directed by James Tinling
starring Peter Lorre, Keye Luke, Max 'Slapsie Maxie' Rosenbloom, Dick Baldwin, Lynn Bari, Douglas Fowley, Jayne Regan, Harold Huber, John Hamilton, George E.Stone, Bernard Nedell, Charles Williams, Ward Bond, Cliff Clark, Eddie Marr, Lon Chaney jr, Russ Clark, Pierre Watkin, Charles D.Brown
written by Charles Belden, Jerome Cady, based on characters created by John P. Marquand

Mr. Moto, Number One Son Lee Chan

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Boxer Frankie Stanton (Ross Clark) is killed in the ring during a fight, and it soon turns out that he didn't die because his opponent Bill Steele (Dick Baldwin) was hitting that hard but because his glove carried some sort of poison. Steele is arrested on the spot for murder, but Japanese super-detective Mr Moto (Peter Lorre) is in the audience, and he soon comes to the conclusion that the poison was shot onto the glove by a spectator via a spraygun ... the question remains, by whom?

There is Crowler (Douglas Fowley), an underworld figure who has won a heap of money betting on the fight, bookie Clipper (Bernard Nedell), who has lost a lot of money because of Stanton's death, but might have been re-insured, reigning champion Biff Moran (Ward Bond), who might have been wanting to get rid of the competition, and who knows who else.

Together with police Lt Riggs (Harold Huber), Moto does some investigating, and they find out that a certain man has placed quite a number of out-of-town bets on Steele, and now must have won a fortune, but once they have tracked down the man, they find him dead - and thus come to the conclusion that he must have been the front for someone else.

Moto figures it might be the best idea to set up a fight between Steele and Biff Moran - and the killer, whoever he is, sets up a deathtrap that is supposed to kiill Moto right during the fight, a gun placed under the boxing ring that aims at Moto's head to go off at a pre-set time. Then though, Moto offers his seat to Linda (Jayne Regan), daughter of the fight's promoter Benton (John Hamilton) ... and eventually, Benton gets so worked up by this that he turns of the timer and this way gives himself away - and it turns out that Moto knew it was him all along but he needed him giving himself away to prove his guilt. The gun was long unloaded by the way.

Charlie Chan's Number One Son Keye Luke and former championship boxer Max 'Slapsie Maxie' Rosenbloom provide the comic relief.


Routine murder mystery of the Oriental supersleuth variety that is much more interesting for its origins than its actual qualities: You see, Mr. Moto's Gamble actually started life as a Charlie Chan-flick, but when Charlie Chan-actor Warner Oland fell ill prior to making this, it was hastily rewritten as a Mr. Moto-movie, even leaving Chan's Number One Son in the story even though his narrative necessity is questionable at best. This all proves above everything else how interchangeable Oriental detectives have become in the late 1930's (only on film, of course), and how serialized B-murder mysteries have become.

And what's all of this saying about the film at hand?

Nothing much, but probably as much: If you like 1930's murder mysteries, this is your typical, average effort, nothing great, but no worse than any number of similar films.


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