Mr. Moto


Mr. I. A. Moto is a fictional Japanese secret agent created by the American author John P. Marquand. Moto's name is apparently an alias, and he is better known simply as Mr. Moto. Marquand originally created Moto for the Saturday Evening Post, which encouraged him to write Asian-flavored mystery stories after the death of Charlie Chan's creator, Earl Derr Biggers.

Moto is small in stature but strong and an expert in judo. He was the title character of a series of books, beginning with No Hero (1935; British title: Mr. Moto Takes a Hand, reprint title: Your Turn, Mr. Moto), and of eight films between 1937 and 1939, in which he was portrayed by Peter Lorre. With the beginning of World War II, Mr. Moto fell out of favor with Americans, and no new books or movies about him appeared between 1942 and 1957.

The Mr. Moto films gave Moto the first name of "Kentaro" and softened his character considerably. Moto, played by Peter Lorre in yellowface, was not a steely, morally ambiguous Japanese agent, but instead a rather exotic member of the "international police" (whatever that may be). In 1957, the film version of Stopover: Tokyo eliminated Moto's character altogether, a remarkable gesture of no confidence in a formerly bankable character. The movie, which also disregarded Marquand's plot, was not a commercial or critical success. In the 1960s, Mr. Moto's character was briefly revived in a low-budget movie starring Henry Silva. 

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1.  The Mysterious Mr. Moto (1938) - Peter Lorre 

Peter Lorre makes his fifth appearance as J. P. Marquand's polite but deadly Japanese sleuth Mr. Moto. This time Moto is called in by Scotland Yard to thwart a vicious gang of international assassins. To infiltrate the gang, Moto poses as a Devil's Island inmate and escapes with one of the killers. The climax takes place at the British Museum, where the mysterious leader of the assassins (the least likely suspect, of course) overplays his hand. The gimmick of having Mr. Moto make his first appearance as an apparent villain works only when the "Moto" films aren't seen as a group. On its own merits, however, Mysterious Mr. Moto is one of the best of the series.

2.  Mr. Moto's Last Warning (1939) – Peter Lorre:

The sixth film in the Mr. Moto series. Mr. Moto is stationed in Egypt to investigate a plot to destroy British and French diplomatic relations.

3.  Mr. Moto in Danger Island (1939) - Peter Lorre:

The U.S. government asks Mr. Moto to go to Puerto Rico to investigate diamond smuggling after an earlier investigator is murdered.

4a. Think Fast Mr. Moto - part 1 of 2

4b. Think Fast Mr. Moto - part 2 of 2 

Think Fast, Mr. Moto (1937) is the first of eight films in the Mr. Moto series, all based on Mr. Moto novels written by John P. Marquand. The film stars Peter Lorre as the title character, as well as Virginia Field and Thomas Beck. The film sees Mr. Moto working to stop a secret smuggling operation

5. Thank you Mr. Moto - part 1 of 7   [NOTE: all the other 6 parts can be accessed at this link]

Thank You, Mr. Moto (1937) is the second in a series of eight films starring Peter Lorre as Mr. Moto. It was based on the novel of the same name by the detective's creator, John P. Marquand. Mr. Moto battles murderous treasure hunters for priceless ancient scrolls which reveal the location of the long-lost tomb of Genghis Khan.

Mr. Moto's Gamble  (1938) - Police friend Lieutenant Riggs (Harold Huber) takes detective Mr. Moto and student Lee Chan (Keye Luke) to a prizefight between Bill Steele (Dick Baldwin) and Frank Stanton (Russ Clark), where the winner will take on the champion, Biff Moran (Ward Bond). However, the fight is fixed and gangster Nick Crowder (Douglas Fowley) bets big money that Stanton won't make it to the fifth round. He goes down in the fourth and dies shortly afterward.
Bookie Clipper McCoy (Bernard Nedell) loses a fortune. Mr. Moto proves that it was murder and it is revealed that $100,000 was won in bets around the country against Stanton. Mr. Moto works with Lt. Riggs to solve the murder as the championship fight looms.
Comedy is provided by Wellington (Maxie Rosenbloom), a kleptomaniac, and Lee Chan. Love interest comes from (Lynn Bari) (who really loves Steele) and (Jayne Regan) (who only loves winners). Mr. Moto promised to reveal the murderer's identity on the night of the big fight, but the murderer has plans, too, with a concealed gun, set up to kill Mr Moto.

Mr Moto Takes a Chance (1938) - In the jungle near Angkor Wat in Cambodia, Mr. Moto poses as an ineffectual archaeologist and a venerable holy man with mystical powers to help foil two insurgencies against the government.

Mr. Moto’s Vacation (1939) - Disguised as a German archaeologist, Moto helps unearth the priceless crown of the legendary Queen of Sheba and sans disguise defends it from a variety of thugs and criminals.


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