Monday, 24 May 2010

The Miniatures of Mr. Moto!

Mysterious Mr. Moto 1938 US
Directed by Norman Foster
20th Century Fox DVD Region 1

Now this is more like it. An absolutely entertaining Mr. Moto movie, very much in the style of one of the Chans!

This one’s set in London and has not one bad Big Ben miniature... but two completely different Big Ben miniatures! The earlier Big Ben establishing shot has an incomplete top... like the top of Big Ben has been completely lopped off and the camera was not supposed to frame it that far up... I recognised this one from it’s later appearance in on of the Toler Chan films.

The second Big Ben has a more complete top... but gor blimey guv’na... it’s the wrong colour. A white Big Ben!

Anyway... once you’ve got over that and the fact that the studio couldn’t find any right hand drive taxis, so all the cabbies are driving ordinary, non-taxi, right hand drive vehicles... you’ll find that this is a pretty good hour and a bit’s entertainment if you’re into those old thirties detective B movies.

This Moto film includes a fight in a pub which is the exact carbon copy cliche ridden saloon fight you’d see in an old thirties Western. No furniture or bottle unbroken. People getting hit by other people before they get to bottle our “heroes”. People climbing the chandeliers for absolutely no apparent reason. Great stuff. Also features a nice high speed car chase which is pretty exciting for the time.

And Harold Huber turns up. Harold Huber! And get this... he’s not playing a comical Brooklyn cop and he’s not playing a comical French police inspector... he’s playing a villain. So instead of cracking smiles and bumbling about as usual... he pretends he’s a dead ringer for Tristran Coffin for most of the performance.

Peter Lorre is taking the role into much more of a caricature of himself by this time but it works really well and... and this was a big shock to me after the other three I recently watched... he kills nobody in this movie! Even the not too hard to spot “surprise” villain at the end gets away lightly as Mr. Moto merely beats him up and captures him... doesn’t strangle or stab him to death when no-one is looking.

This one is well recommended!

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