Mysterious Mr. Moto (1938)

63 mins | Drama | 21 October 1938

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HISTORY

This film was also reviewed under the title Mysterious Mr. Moto of Devil's Island . According to information in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department at the UCLA Theater Arts Library, twenty feet of stock footage entitled "Chase Through Devil's Island" was purchased from Columbia Pictures for use in this film. According to publicity, director Norman Foster disguised himself as a hoodlum for the brawl scene in the Limehouse tavern. According to a HR news item, Michael Whalen was originally cast for the role of "Anton Darvak," but he was needed for more shooting in Racing Blood , the working title of Speed to Burn (see below). The song "Black Black Sheep" was used earlier in Fox's 1934 film Springtime for Henry (see below). This film had a Los Angeles preview for the trade press on 27 May 1938, months before its national release. HR commented in their review, "The progressive development of the Mr. Moto pictures has been one of Hollywood's most interesting evolutions of series films during the past year." For information about the series, please See Entry for Think Fast, Mr. Moto and consult the Series ... More Less

This film was also reviewed under the title Mysterious Mr. Moto of Devil's Island . According to information in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department at the UCLA Theater Arts Library, twenty feet of stock footage entitled "Chase Through Devil's Island" was purchased from Columbia Pictures for use in this film. According to publicity, director Norman Foster disguised himself as a hoodlum for the brawl scene in the Limehouse tavern. According to a HR news item, Michael Whalen was originally cast for the role of "Anton Darvak," but he was needed for more shooting in Racing Blood , the working title of Speed to Burn (see below). The song "Black Black Sheep" was used earlier in Fox's 1934 film Springtime for Henry (see below). This film had a Los Angeles preview for the trade press on 27 May 1938, months before its national release. HR commented in their review, "The progressive development of the Mr. Moto pictures has been one of Hollywood's most interesting evolutions of series films during the past year." For information about the series, please See Entry for Think Fast, Mr. Moto and consult the Series Index. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
4-Jun-38
---
Film Daily
26 Sep 38
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Mar 38
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Mar 38
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Mar 38
p. 19.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Apr 38
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
28 May 38
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald
4 Jun 38
p. 32, 34
New York Times
19 Sep 38
p. 16.
Variety
1 Jun 38
p. 12.
Variety
21 Sep 38
p. 13.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCER
Exec prod
WRITERS
Orig scr, Orig scr
Orig scr, Orig scr
PHOTOGRAPHY
Cam op
Asst cam
Gaffer
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Asst cutter
SET DECORATOR
Set dresser
COSTUMES
Cost
Ward girl
Ward man
MUSIC
Mus dir
MAKEUP
Hair
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Unit mgr
Scr clerk
Asst grip
Asst prop
Asst prop
Best boy
Casting
Still photog
Publicity
STAND INS
Stunts
Stunts
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the character "Mr. Moto" created by John P. Marquand.
SONGS
"It's the Syme, the Whole World Over," music and lyrics by John Paul Lock Barton and Bert Massee
"Black Black Sheep," music by Louis De Francesco, lyrics by Frank Tuttle.
DETAILS
Series:
Alternate Title:
Mysterious Mr. Moto of Devil's Island
Release Date:
21 October 1938
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 17 September 1938
Production Date:
21 March--mid April 1938
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Copyright Date:
21 October 1938
Copyright Number:
LP8599
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
63
Length(in feet):
5,672
Length(in reels):
7
Country:
United States
PCA No:
4213
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Disguised as Ito Matsuka, Japanese murderer Kentaro Moto, an agent of the International Police, leads Paul Brissac, a Frenchman, in an escape from Devil's Island. In London, Moto becomes a houseboy for Brissac, a member of a group of hired killers of diplomats and economic leaders, which the newspapers have dubbed "The League of Assassins." Moto is trying to learn the identity of the group's leader and the reason that they are in London. Meanwhile, Prague steel king Anton Darvak, a pacifist, has refused to sell to armament manufacturers a formula for a new type of steel. After he receives a threatening telephone call at his London hotel, Moto learns of the call from one of his agents, Lotus Liu. On his way to visit Darvak, Moto witnesses a lorry back up and kill a man in a street market. Darvak at first refuses to tell Moto about the threat against his life, despite the urging of his secretary, Ann Richman, and his business associate, David Scott-Frensham. However, when he learns that the man run down by the lorry, Lord Gilford, was killed as a warning to him, Darvak confides to Moto that he was told he would be killed the next afternoon at three if he does not part with the formula. Moto visits the Limehouse tavern where Lotus lives. After he hears the accordion player play the same tune that an organ grinder played before Lord Gilford was killed, a brawl begins. Moto takes Lotus to her room to pack, and they find the body of a member of the league, who was killed because he confided in Lotus. At ... +


Disguised as Ito Matsuka, Japanese murderer Kentaro Moto, an agent of the International Police, leads Paul Brissac, a Frenchman, in an escape from Devil's Island. In London, Moto becomes a houseboy for Brissac, a member of a group of hired killers of diplomats and economic leaders, which the newspapers have dubbed "The League of Assassins." Moto is trying to learn the identity of the group's leader and the reason that they are in London. Meanwhile, Prague steel king Anton Darvak, a pacifist, has refused to sell to armament manufacturers a formula for a new type of steel. After he receives a threatening telephone call at his London hotel, Moto learns of the call from one of his agents, Lotus Liu. On his way to visit Darvak, Moto witnesses a lorry back up and kill a man in a street market. Darvak at first refuses to tell Moto about the threat against his life, despite the urging of his secretary, Ann Richman, and his business associate, David Scott-Frensham. However, when he learns that the man run down by the lorry, Lord Gilford, was killed as a warning to him, Darvak confides to Moto that he was told he would be killed the next afternoon at three if he does not part with the formula. Moto visits the Limehouse tavern where Lotus lives. After he hears the accordion player play the same tune that an organ grinder played before Lord Gilford was killed, a brawl begins. Moto takes Lotus to her room to pack, and they find the body of a member of the league, who was killed because he confided in Lotus. At Brissac's residence, Ernst Litmar tells Brissac that Moto was seen in the bar speaking with Lotus. They send Moto to a certain store for fruit, and when Moto gets there, he hears a street violinist play the tune he heard before the two previous murders. A number of toughs crowd around him, but he escapes in a cab. The next day, Moto goes to Coventry Galleries, knowing that Darvak plans to be there that afternoon at three to see an exhibition. He overhears Litmar explain to Brissac the plan to kill Darvak: the leader of the group will position Darvak in front of a particular painting and say his name in a loud voice; the orchestra will then play the same tune used previously to identify men to be murdered; Brissac, in the gallery loft, will cut the chandelier, and its fall will kill Darvak. After Ann tells a surprised, but very pleased Darvak that she loves him, Moto visits. David also arrives and says that he has brought two men from Scotland Yard to protect Darvak. When Moto is stopped by the two plainclothesmen in the hall, he sees that one of them has a gun and knocks them over a bannister. As three o'clock nears, David arrives alone at the gallery, and as he stands in front of the painting, an eccentric German artist complains about the art exhibited. When Darvak arrives with the plainclothesmen, the crank artist loudly calls David "Darvak," and the orchestra plays the tune. Brissac cuts the chandelier, and it kills David. The crank artist then removes his disguise and reveals himself to be Moto. He explains he knew that the leader must be David because the plainclothesmen had guns, while Scotland Yard officers do not carry any. As the gang is apprehended, Brissac shoots from the loft, but Moto fights and subdues him. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.