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Dec 21 07 10:35 PM
Dec 23 07 1:12 PM
The purchase of these two sets easily turned out to be one of the best purchases I've made in a while. A great mix of mystery, thriller, and action
packed violence, plus its nice that Moto and occasionally another lead aside they also used Asian actors, which helps nullify the series being too dated.
Seriously great films I'm starting to wish two films in that there were as many Moto films as there were Chans.
I agree completely. I've watched the first three films in the set. I was a pleasantly surprised to find Moto was not just a clone of the Chan
character, like Karloff's Mr. Wong. I've reserved the Youngkin book at our library.
Slightly off topic: the MR. MOTO TAKES A CHANCE disc includes a short documentary on Lorre narrated by Youngkin that's a good capsule of Lorre's life
and career. At the end of the doc there is a clip of a very odd musical number by The Ritz Brothers from ONE IN A MILLION (1936) titled "Horror Boys of
Hollywood" which bemoans the plight of being typecasted as a horror star. I must admit I can't tell one Ritz from another, but The Boys perform the
number as Charles Laughton (as Captain Bligh), Karloff (as the Monster), and Lorre (dressed as Lorre?). It seemed strange to me they chose Laughton as one of
the 'Horror Boys' and not Lugosi. The number as seen on this disc seems incomplete, and did I mention The Boys are on roller skates..?
Maybe this belongs in the "Who Played the Monster" thread:
ONE IN A MILLION (1936) - A Ritz Brother
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I just finished watching the two-volume box set and I'm a little sad that there aren't more to see. Sure, there is
some klunkiness to be had in this
series of films --- 1938's MR. MOTO'S GAMBLE is awful and should only be seen by Charlie Chan (yes, I said "Chan") completists; the
upper-class British twit comic relief in MR. MOTO'S LAST WARNING and MR. MOTO TAKES A VACATION (same character with different names: "Rollo
Venables" and "Archie Featherstone," respectively) is exquisitely unfunny and grating; the first half of MR. MOTO TAKES A VACATION is dull and
stupid --- but there's a lot of good stuff here.
I really enjoyed these more than I thought I would. I guess it's because my memory of them was of me grudgingly watching them on late-night tv when
there weren't any monster movies on. I know there was a "Mr. Moto's Casebook" syndicated tv package that I grumpily tolerated, but I also
used to get them as part of a revolving showcase of old Fox detective movies (in fact, the restorations on the box set are so good that I caught
myself almost nostalgically pining for the ragged, grubby prints!). But when viewed on their own for their own sake (rather than substitutes for late-night
creature features), these Moto movies really hold up.
I found that Peter Lorre's Kentaro Moto was always interesting to watch... There are lots of folks who bristle at the possible racist characterizations,
but really, the worst "yellow-face" minstrelsy only occurred when Lorre was playing Moto playing on the ignorant gaijin stereotypes of the Japanese as a disguise in order to be overlooked and underestimated, i.e. "Oh no, me not Mr Moto,
me simple, polite, unassuming Japanese dealer in A-number-1 antiques, savvy?" Otherwise, Moto is smarter, more capable, more distinguished, and more
dangerous than everyone else in the movie. If you want to get angry about offensive, racist performances, then go watch Mickey Rooney's cringeworthy turn
as Mr. Yunioshi in BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S... Mr. Moto rocks the house!
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