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Monday, May 26, 2008

MR. MOTO IN DANGER ISLAND (1939)

In the long line of ‘politically incorrect’ Hollywood racial casting, Hungarian born Peter Lorre’s Mr Moto is probably the least in need of historical/cultural apologies to facilitate our enjoyment of the eight dandy pics he made as the polite, but not quite knowable Japanese detective. Most were smartly directed by ex-actor Norman Foster, but this late entry was helmed by ‘routinier’ Herbert Leeds who brings a bit less to the party. Still, even when playing more closely within the conventions of drawing room detective yarns (and with too much forced dimwit comic relief), Lorre manages to elevate the slim story about diamond smuggling in the tropics into something entertaining and a bit perverse, with nice support from Jean Hersholt, Leon Ames, Paul Harvey & Douglas Dumbrille all in spiffy white suits.

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