(director: Norman Foster; screenwriters: Philip MacDonald/created by John P. Marquand; cinematographer: Virgil Miller; editor: Norman Colbert; music: David Raksin; cast: Peter Lorre (Mr. Kentaro Moto), Ricardo Cortez (Fabian the Great), Virginia Field (Connie Porter), John Carradine (Danforth – aka Richard Burke), George Sanders (Eric Norvel), Joan Carol (Mary ‘Marie’ ‘Delacour), Robert Coote (Rollo Venables), Margaret Irving (Madame Delacour), Leyland Hodgson (Captain Bert Hawkins), John Davidson (Hakim), E.E. Clive (Port Commandant General), Teru Shimada (Fake Mr. Moto) ; Runtime: 71; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Sol M. Wurtzel; Alpha; 1939)

“Enjoyable detective story.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

One of the last of the Mr. Moto detective series of the 1930s because of the deteriorating relationship between America and Japan. The series is based on the John P. Marquand books on Mr. Moto, and is written by Philip MacDonald. Norman Foster (“Mr. Moto Takes a Chance”/”Charlie Chan in Reno”/”Think Fast, Mr. Moto”) helms this enjoyable detective story, a cousin to the Charlie Chan films.

The renown diminutive international Japanese detective, Mr. Moto, is adroitly played by the Hungarian-born Peter Lorre with steel-rimmed glasses and buck-teeth. He’s in Egypt on assignment to prevent enemy agents from blowing up the French fleet that arrives at the Red Sea for joint maneuvers with the British fleet. Lorre played him in eight films, showing off that he’s a master of disguises and an expert in ju-jitsu.

It opens as a Japanese man impersonating Mr Moto (Teru Shimada) is abducted and murdered after disembarking from a ship at Port Said in Egypt. The real Mr Moto is already in Port Said and disguised as an antique dealer named Kuroki. He’s investigating a conspiracy against the British and French governments, and has tracked down Fabian the Great (Ricardo Cortez), a vaudeville ventriloquist, to be the gang’s leader. The second in command is a suave European, Eric Norvel (George Sanders), who arrived on the ship that had the French admiral’s wife Madame Delacour and their daughter Marie. A British Secret Service agent, Richard Burke (John Carradine), goes under the alias of Danforth to infiltrate the gang. Mr. Moto makes contact with him and together they discover that the gang have mined the harbor for the arrival of the French fleet. The international saboteurs want to throw the blame onto the British, which they believe will cause their alliance to end and possibly even cause a war between the two countries. The gang is rounded up with the help of Fabian’s British girlfriend Connie (Virginia Field), who may be wanted by the British police but is no terrorist. Rollo Venables (Robert Coote) is a bumbling British author who also arrived on the same boat, but is such a clod he gets more in the way than helps when called upon by Mr. Moto.