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Tuesday, June 3, 2008

THANK YOU, MR. MOTO (1938)

Exemplary Mr Moto entry is the darkest in the series and boasts a compelling emotional undertow that’s as effective as it is unexpected. For once, the lame comic relief is expunged (studio execs, no doubt, forced its quick return upon Preston Foster who helmed the best outings) which allows Peter Lorre’s wonderful characterization an extra bit of space to work in while following the procedural detective tropes and handling Moto’s apt witticisms. (That’s Lorre ’s stunt double handling the physical stuff.) The basic story line involving some antique Chinese scrolls that make up a sort of treasure map was (atypically) actually based on a novel by Moto creator John P. Marquand and this may add to the tough, blunt tone hiding just below the surface. All the Moto films entertain, but this one sticks with you.

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