Peter Lorre’s new characterization, that of an educated Japanese merchant and amateur sleuth, gets away from the grim villainy of his previous film efforts. He no longer is a bogey man. When he smiles, it is not a wry, warped grimace.
In Mr Moto he carries the title role, as a San Francisco importer who decides to run down a vast ring of gem smugglers, operating between Shanghai and the US port. His identity is skillfully masked till the pay-off scene. Aboard a liner bound for the Chinese seaport metropolis, Moto begins unraveling the skeins of a Frisco murder mystery [from a story by John P. Marquand] and identity of a mysterious beauty who boards the steamer at Honolulu.
Lorre is surrounded by a capable cast, with Virginia Field and Sig Ruman as distinct assets. She is the gang’s unwilling undercover operative who tries to warn the wealthy youth with whom she falls in love. Ruman plays the cabaret owner and king of the smugglers.