MR. MOTO'S LAST WARNING (1939)

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Mr. Moto's Last Warning Cover Warning. The following 71 minute movie made in 1939 contains men, women, and a plot that is fairly easy to understand. Kind of. So if you're the type of person who likes that recent run of rubbish you can see in the cinema's today, stay away. As it was Directed by: Norman Foster; and Starred: Peter Lorre, John Carradine, with George Sanders.


Mr. Moto's Last Warning


THE STORY:
Hello, 'Mister Danforth' (John Carradine). Or should I say, double-agent, Richard Burke? It's me, remember? You do remember me, don't you?

Why, yes. That is correct, my friend. We worked together quite sometime ago, didn't we? Although let's not forget I'm also the international agent your 'colleague' Norvel (George Sanders) thought he killed after he stepped off of the boat in Cairo.

Yes. I'm none other than Mr. Moto (Peter Lorre) himself.

Well, as you can clearly see I'm not dead at all. In fact I'm very much alive and well. And just like you, I've been trying to figure out what Novel and his accomplice Fabian (Ricardo Cortez) are doing over here in Egypt.

So far all I've gathered is that they're attempting to instigate a war between England and France using some sort of nautical apparatus. Yet I'm sure with your noticed assistance I'll be able to find out some more information, without being killed like my double did who ran into Novel earlier.

Then again, that's most probably why what next transpires all takes a nose dive when you get sent swimming with the sharks. As Connie Porter (Virginia Field) has something to say - a brawl in the street sends the bad guys my way - an English fop strangely pitches in - and at the end of the day, a master plan is ultimately thrown in the bin.




THE REVIEW:
Now I was first made aware of the 1930's Mister Moto film franchise by a friend of mine on facebook. One day he came to the realization that I'm a big fan of Sherlock Holmes and Asian cinema, and he was wondering if I'd enjoy watching an oriental version of Sherlock in action.

Mr. Moto's Last Warning Vintage Film Poster 1939
And did I? Well. Yes and no really. More 'no' because I didn't find 'Mr Moto's Last Warning' a sparkling treat. Overall I felt that the general narrative was a rather muddled affair, comprising of comical two dimensional archetypes and an un-even through-line that was kind of difficult to follow.

Essentially there were two aspects about this adventure that I myself wasn't too keen on. Firstly, as I just mentioned, the tale in itself was one of those 'smoke and mirror' type scenarios. Most of the characters in it appeared to be someone else further down the line. Plus it also took quite some time to figure who was who, as well as what the basic story-line was all about. And secondly, I didn't like the obvious manner in which Peter was doubled during the fight scenes. As a matter of fact this was so apparent on screen that it actually took me out of the movie completely.

On the flip side of things, however, I'd say the production values were fairly well polished in execution, plus Peter Lorre didn't do a bad job at playing an Asian detective despite being of Hungarian decent. What's more, on occasion there was a very dark and sinister edge to this film that made it very suspenseful and thrilling by default.

For instance, one of my most favorite scenes in this entire movie was the one where the British agent was sent down into the sea in some sort of nautical container. Now from my point of view this scene was fairly enjoyable to watch because we -- the audience -- secretary knew that the villain who sent him down recognized who he really was. And this in turn gave this sequence a titivating factor in which we try to second guess what he'll be doing next. Would he kill him? Would he force his hand? Or would he play him for a patsy and let him go free?


Mr. Moto's Last Warning Starring Peter Lorre


Honolulu Film Poster Featuring Peter Lorre and Mr. Moto's Last Warning
Anyway. Apart from that, dear reader, generally speaking this was a pretty so-so film. And what now follows are its filmic-facts. (1) '20th Century Fox' first released this production in America on the exact same day the American politician Paul Coverdell was born. It was on the 20th of January, 1939. (2) Loosely translated, this project was entitled 'Mister Moto Is To Die For' in Finland; 'The Fleet is In Danger' in Greece; and 'Last Warning, Mister Moto' in Denmark. (3) The majority of this movie was shot at '20th Century Fox Studios', Century City, located within the Californian state of Los Angeles. (4) In honour of the actor who played Charlie Chan, Warner Oland, who tragically passed away whilst this film was being developed, the makers of this movie highlighted his 1938 film, 'Honolulu', during that scene outside the Sultana Theatre. (5) This was the seventh Mister Moto adventure produced by '20th Century Fox', and in total there would eventually be eight made. (6) During pre-production this drama was given three names which include: 'Mister Moto No. 6', 'Mister Moto in Egypt', and 'Winter Garden'. (7) If you look very closely you'll notice that the beard Fabian scribbles on Burke's photo is thicker and more buoyant the third time it's shown. (8) After this movie stubbed out its last cigarette, Peter Lorre starred in his next Mr Moto movie, 'Danger Island'; John Carradine starred in the western, 'Stagecoach'; and George Sanders starred in the drama, 'The Outsider'.


Mr. Moto's Last Warning 1939 FIlm Poster Starring Peter Lorre


Overall I'd say 'Mr Moto's Last Warning' was a pretty ying yang film. Even though I wasn't too happy about the story plus the two dimension aspects of some of the characters, in the same breath, I would like to see some more of these films just to confirm if Moto is in fact an oriental Sherlock in disguise.

Stay tuned. Nuff said. 

THE RATING: B-