(director/writer: Norman Foster ; screenwriters: Philip MacDonald/from a book by J. P. Marquand; cinematographer: Virgil Miller; editor: Norman Colbert; music: Charles Maxwell; cast: Peter Lorre (Mr. Moto), Mary Maguire (Ann Richman), Henry Wilcoxon (Anton Darvak), Leon Ames (Paul Brissac), Erik Rhodes (David Scott-Frensham), Harold Huber (Ernst Litmar), Karen Sorrell (Lotus Liu), Forrester Harvey (George Higgins); Runtime: 62; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Sol M. Wurtzel; 20th Century Fox Film Corporation; 1938)

“The banal plot is the weak spot, but the action at the climax is good.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Peter Lorre makes his fifth appearance as J. P. Marquand’s deadly Japanese sleuth Mr. Moto. This typical B film series venture is directed in a fast pace by Norman Foster (“The Sign of Zorro”/”Journey Into Fear”). The banal plot is the weak spot, but the action at the climax is good. Foster co-writes with Philip MacDonald.

Mr. Moto (Peter Lorre) is in London to catch the international leader of The League of Assassins, who kill diplomats, corporation heads and world leaders for a price. Their presence baffles Scotland Yard. The master of disguises uses a disguise to get imprisoned in the notorious Devil’s Island to help the Frenchman Paul Brissac (Leon Ames) escape. Brissac is a member of the gang, who is unaware of who his benefactor is and hires him as his subservient houseboy (Lorre’s stereotyping of the Japanese doesn’t go over well in modern-times) when they get to London. There Moto must not only find the gang leader, but protect the pacifist Prague steel king, Anton Darvak (Henry Wilcoxon), who is told to either give up his new formula to an armament manufacturer or die.

Mary Maguire plays Darvak’s secretary who’s in love with him.

REVIEWED ON 6/26/2016       GRADE: B-