Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, September 27, 2018


Mr. Moto (Peter Lorre) in disguise as an old guru
MR. MOTO TAKES A CHANCE (1938). Director: Norman Foster.

"If I was casting a horror picture I'd have him play the murderer." -- reference to Mr. Moto.

Mr. Moto (Peter Lorre) is on an archaeological dig in Cambodia, which is under French rule, when who should drop in by parachute but Victoria Mason (Rochell Hudson), who was flying around the world until her plane caught fire. Among the other supporting characters are filmmakers Marty (Robert Kent of Who's Guilty?) and Chick (Chick Chandler of Circumstantial Evidence), who hope to photograph some of the forbidden royal temples. Objecting to this is Bokor (George Regas), the High Priest, who is in a power struggle with the portly and deceptively amusing Rajah Ali (J. Edward Bromberg of The Mark of Zorro). Then one of the Rajah's wives is murdered by poison dart. Half of the time Moto disguises himself as an elderly guru  who gives orders to the High Priest while spies are plotting and trying to kill each other -- and Moto -- everywhere. If this sounds interesting, be warned that Mr. Moto Takes a Chance is essentially a plot-less stew with a thrown-together script that just gets duller as it goes along until a fairly exciting climax in the temple. Peter Lorre gives his customary good performance but one senses he was mighty bored with the material, along with the audience.

Verdict: Where's Charlie Chan when you need him? **. 


angelman66 said...

Lorre was great as Mr. Moto, though!, even when phoning it in!
Have a great week, Bill!

William said...

You, too, Chris! As always, thanks for your comments!