The Complete Mr. Moto Film Phile: A
by Howard M. Berlin
The Selling of Mr. Moto
John P. Marquand—Novelist
Norman Foster—Director and Scenarist
Mr. Moto—A Character Sketch
The Mr. Moto Film Guide
Think Fast, Mr. Moto (1937)
Thank You, Mr. Moto (1937)
Mr. Moto’s Gamble (1938)
Mr. Moto Takes a Chance (1938)
Mysterious Mr. Moto (1938)
Mr. Moto’s Last Warning (1939)
Danger Island (1939)
Mr. Moto Takes a Vacation (1939)
The Return of Mr. Moto (1965)
Appendix A. Marquand’s Published Writings
Appendix B. Working Titles for Mr. Moto Films
Appendix C. Multiple Appearances of Cast Members in Mr. Moto Films
Appendix D. The Wise Sayings of Mr. Moto
I guess I became a fan of the Mr. Moto films during the 1970s when local TV stations showed Charlie Chan films on their late-night “Charlie Chan Theater” shows and these sometimes included the Mr. Moto entries. I became strongly attracted to the Oriental detective films of Charlie Chan, Mr. Moto, and Mr. Wong, which seemed to have a lot going for them when compared with many of the other Hollywood detective films of the 1930s and 1940s.
As a outgrowth of my interest in the genre, I had previously written two books on Charlie Chan: The Charlie Chan Films Encyclopedia (McFarland, 2000) and Charlie Chan’s Words of Wisdom (Wildside Press, 2001). The ltater contains about 600 of the pithy aphorisms attributed to the inscrutable Chinese detective. I then found out that most of the fans of Charlie Chan films also seemed to enjoy the Mr. Moto series, especially the ones with Peter Lorre. It then seemed a logical progression to write a Mr. Moto book. Although there were pieces of information about the Mr. Moto series here and there, there was no one single book that was entirely devoted to it. This book was written to fill that void—a reference bible for Mr. Moto film lovers everywhere.
The Complete Mr. Moto Film Phile: A Casebook is the culmination of my effort. It is divided into three major sections. The first is concerned with the three individuals that helped create and develop the Mr. Moto character: author John P. Marquand, actor Peter Lorre, and director/scenarist Norman Foster. This section gives the biographies of these three individuals, with emphasis on their contributions to the Mr. Moto novels and films. In addition, a character sketch of the Mr. Moto character is presented with comparisons between the character of Marquand’s novels and that of Foster’s films and a comparison between Charlie Chan and Mr. Moto.
The second part of the book is a film guide of the nine Mr. Mr. Moto films—the first eight stars Peter Lorre from 1937 to 1939, and the last entry, twenty-six years later in 1965, with Henry Silva. Each film provides information about cast and crew lists, running times, release dates, onscreen credits, notable facts, trivia, commentaries, posters, title cards, and stills. Because many of the films are not readily available on commercial videotapes or DVDs, the storylines are somewhat detailed to provide the reader, who might not have access to the films, with the many scene-by-scene details of the plots. My favorite film of the series is Thank You, Mr. Moto (1937) while my least favorite is The Return of Mr. Moto (1965).
The final section, sometimes referred to by publishers as the “back matter” of a book, includes an appendix which contains several useful items. Appendix A lists Marquand’s published writings and also compares the titles of the Mr. Moto published serializations, books, and reissued paperbacks; Appendix B lists the alternate and working titles for all of the films in the Mr. Moto series; Appendix C lists those actors and actresses that appeared in two or more films; and Appendix D lists the wise sayings of Mr. Moto which are nowhere as numerous as those of Charlie Chan.
© 2005, Howard M. Berlin