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Monday, May 26, 2008

MR. MOTO’S GAMBLE (1937)


The third of eight MR. MOTO films is Moto in name only. When Warner Oland pulled out of his Charlie Chan pic (he would not live to complete another), 20th/Fox reworked the script just enough to substitute Peter Lorre ’s sly pussycat for Oland’s aphoristic detective. It works, more or less, on Charlie Chan terms (Key Luke hangs around as Number One son), but it’s a waste to find Moto adrift in the flat visuals and flat-footed detective procedural steps of that other Oriental dick. Hack megger James Tinlin is no kinetic dynamo and usually just plants his camera front & center. Best to think of this one, about fixed boxing and gambling rings, as a bonus Moto title that’s just barely worth it’s running time.

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