THANK YOU, MR.MOTO, the second Moto thriller, released late in 1937, five months after the first, found even greater favor with audiences, relishing Peter Lorre’s developing characterization, exotic settings, and a polished production. Like the inaugural picture, this was directed by Norman Foster, who co-wrote the script with Wyllis Cooper (Son Of Frankenstein). *
This quite enjoyable entry begins in the Gobi Desert before moving to Peiping (today’s Beijing) where our multi-faceted hero ‘Kentaro Moto’ (Lorre) unravels the motives of various parties laying claim—from tradition or greed—to a series of ancient scrolls that contain directions to the lost tomb of Genghis Khan. The treasures take a toll in lives, the innocent and the guilty. The latter are dispatched by Moto with no remorse: this calm-until-disturbed guy is polished as a professor, nice as a kitten and deadly as a viper.
Good action, atmospheric sets, amusing dialogue, and a keen supporting cast that includes Sidney Blackmer (as ‘Herr Kroeger’, tying in the bad-German trope), John Carradine (enjoying himself), Philip Ahn (with his wonderful voice–this may be the most emotional role he ever was given) and Sig Rumann.
Placing 102nd in ’37, grossing $2,200,000 (translates in 2022 to $40,931,000). With Thomas Beck, Jane Regan, Pauline Frederick, Nedda Harrigan. Look fast for Richard Loo and Victor Sen Yung. 67 minutes.
* Norman Foster wrote & directed six of the eight Moto adventures. He’d also pilot three of Charlie Chan’s investigations, and later style a lot of fun stuff for Disney, including Davy Crockett King Of The Wild Frontier and sequel, plus the likes of Zorro, Elfego Baca and Hans Brinker. His best feature film was Rachel And The Stranger.