Mr. Moto’s Last Warning

16. MR. MOTO’S LAST WARNING (1939-usa). WITH Peter Lorre, Ricardo Cortez, George Sanders, John Carradine, Virginia Field. Directed by Norman Foster. The place: exotic and dangerous Port Said. The time: the eve of World War II. Agents of an unnamed country, hoping to damage relations between France and Britain, are about to blow up the French fleet as it enters the Suez Canal. It will mean certain disaster for the free world, precariously poised over an abyss. The nefarious villains, including a deceptively cultured gentleman (George Sanders, at his smoothly sinister best) and a deceptively charming ventriloquist (Ricardo Cortez) who has a peculiar friendship with his dummy, start things off by murÂdering the feared Japanese detective, Mr. Moto. But waitÑMr. Moto, master of deceit, had another man stand in for him, and isn’t dead after all! Posed as a mild-mannered art curator, Moto patiently and quietly engages in detection, employs unusual disguises, and awaits the chance to jump into action with his famous and dreaded jujitsu. Peter Lorre, who made eight Moto films between 1937 and t939, is delightful as the inscruÂtable sleuth; and Norman Foster, who directed six of those films, provides fast-paced action, exciting underÂwater adventure, authentic atmosphere, and a gallery of weird characters. Lorre went on to bigger movies, and the Moto series itself was doomed by Pearl Harbor, which made Japanese screen heroes unacceptable. An entertaining, brisk crime drama with quite a lot crammed into its running lime. 70 minutes. Crime Mystery Suspense