|Peter Lorre as Mr. Moto|
"Half of the world spends its time laughing at the other half -- and both are fools." -- Mr. Moto.
"Strange people, these Americans." -- ditto.
On a liner heading for China, a mysterious Japanese man named Mr. Moto (Peter Lorre) encounters a pleasant young fellow named Bob Hitchings (Thomas Beck), whose father owns the steamship company. Bob falls hard for another mysterious person, Gloria (Virginia Field), who is employed as a singer at the International Club in Shanghai. Gloria's employer, Nicolas Marloff (Sig Ruman) is up to some skulduggery and Mr. Moto seems to have an uncertain role in this. Is he good guy or bad? Although Think Fast, Mr. Moto, the first of the Mr. Moto films, has a workable script and a fast pace, its primarily the performances that put it over, with Lorre superb as the importer who dabbles in detective work as a sideline, especially where his own concerns are involved. Thomas Beck is quite appealing as Bob, and Virginia Field [Repeat Performance] offers another of her expert portrayals as the mystery woman who has, perhaps, gotten herself in too deep. John Rogers scores as ship's steward, Carson, who may be hiding a shiv under his likable exterior, and there are nice turns from J. Carrol Naish as an assassin; Murray Kinnell as a business associate of Bob's father; and Lotus Long [Mr. Wong in Chinatown] as a hotel switchboard operator who helps Moto and is nearly killed for her troubles. Thomas Beck and Murray Kinnell both appeared in Charlie Chan in Paris.
Verdict: Good, snappy introduction to the Mr. Moto series. ***.