Despite all the legitimate complaints about this series being blatantly racist (a white actor portraying a Japanese character, stereotypes about Asians, etc.), there can still be an argument made about its entertainment value. The good tends to outweigh the bad. The hero or protagonist of the series is an extremely clever man who regularly outwits white men. Hungarian Peter Lorre portrays Mr. Moto, a character from pulp detective novels of John Phillips Marquand. These high quality and entertaining pictures were somehow forgotten and now they are available for us to see for the first time or rediscover. There was a series of 8 films made between the years of 1937 to 1939. The films are full of mystery, action and a high amount of violence for its time. We really should see films of this type through the lenses of what was the norm at the time; the films should be seen in the context of their time. Yes, we would not allow this type of simplistic stereotyping today, but the 1930s were a different time.
Mr. Moto Takes a Chance:
In Sumata, Mr. Moto (Peter Lorre – Silk Stockings, Around the World in 80 Days) helps American agent, Vicki Mason (Rochelle Hudson – Rebel Without a Cause, Curly Top), squash a rebellion led by a priest named Bokor (George Regas – The Mark of Zorro, Beau Geste).
Mysterious Mr. Moto:
Mr. Moto gets himself imprisoned on purpose on Devil's Island so he can help Paul Brissac (Leon Ames – Peggy Sue Got Married, Tora!Tora!Tora!) escape. Brissac and Mr. Moto then go about trying to get enough proof against a ruthless international gang. To get the proof Moto disguises himself as Ito the Japanese houseboy of the British gangsters.
Thank You Mr. Moto:
Mr. Moto competes against a violent gang of treasure hunters who will stop at nothing in order to get their hands on seven scrolls which when put together shows the location of the tomb of Genghis Khan. The tomb is thought to contain much treasure. Moto has one scroll and the others are thought to be held by Prince Chung (Philip Ahn – appeared in episodes of Wonder Woman and M.A.S.H.) and his mother, Madame Chung (Pauline Frederick – La Tosca). The two Chungs see the protecting of the scrolls as part of their sacred duty to their ancestors to protect the tomb of Genghis Khan.
Think Fast Mr. Moto:
While on a freighter ship sailing from San Francisco to Shanghai, Mr. Moto realizes that there is something strange going on. He realizes that the steward (John Rogers – Les Miserables, Lassie Come Home) on the ship had murdered a man in San Francisco and nabs him trying to steal a letter from a passenger's room. The passenger is Robert Hitchings (Thomas Beck – Heidi, White Fang), the son of the man that owns the ship, and he finds himself falling in love with Gloria (Virginia Field – The Merry Widow), a mysterious woman who will not talk about her past at all. Gloria disappears once they dock in Shanghai. In Shanghai, Mr. Moto tries to find the connection between the murder, the letter and Gloria.
-"The Mysterious Mr. Lorre" featurette
-"Sol Wurtzel: The Forgotten Mogul" featurette
-"The Dean of Hollywood: A Conversation with Harvey Parry" featurette
-"Directed by Norman Foster" featurette