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Mr. Moto

Mr. Moto

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Mr. Moto is a fictional
Fictional character
A character is the representation of a person in a narrative work of art . Derived from the ancient Greek word kharaktêr , the earliest use in English, in this sense, dates from the Restoration, although it became widely used after its appearance in Tom Jones in 1749. From this, the sense of...

 Japanese
Japanese people
The are an ethnic group originating in the Japanese archipelago and are the predominant ethnic group of Japan. Worldwide, approximately 130 million people are of Japanese descent; of these, approximately 127 million are residents of Japan. People of Japanese ancestry who live in other countries...

 secret agent created by the American author John P. Marquand
John P. Marquand
John Phillips Marquand was a American writer. Originally best known for his Mr. Moto spy stories, he achieved popular success and critical respect for his satirical novels, winning a Pulitzer Prize for The Late George Apley in 1938...

. He appeared in six novels by Marquand published between 1935 and 1957. Marquand initially created the character for the Saturday Evening Post, which was seeking stories with an Asian hero after the death of Charlie Chan
Charlie Chan
Charlie Chan is a fictional Chinese-American detective created by Earl Derr Biggers in 1919. Loosely based on Honolulu detective Chang Apana, Biggers conceived of the benevolent and heroic Chan as an alternative to Yellow Peril stereotypes, such as villains like Fu Manchu...

's creator Earl Derr Biggers
Earl Derr Biggers
Earl Derr Biggers was an American novelist and playwright. He is remembered primarily for adaptations of his novels, especially those featuring the Chinese-American detective Charlie Chan.-Biography:...

.

In various other media, Mr. Moto has been portrayed as an international law enforcement agent. These include eight motion pictures starring Peter Lorre
Peter Lorre
Peter Lorre was an Austrian-American actor frequently typecast as a sinister foreigner.He caused an international sensation in 1931 with his portrayal of a serial killer who preys on little girls in the German film M...

 between 1937 and 1939, 23 radio shows starring James Monk
James Monk
Sir James Monk was Chief Justice of Lower Canada. He was born in Boston, Massachusetts and educated in Halifax, Nova Scotia where his father had settled in 1749....

 broadcast in 1951, a 1965 film starring Henry Silva, and a 2003 comic book produced by Moonstone Books
Moonstone Books
Moonstone Books is an American comic book, graphic novel, and prose fiction publisher based in Chicago focused on pulp fiction comic books and prose anthologies as well as horror and western tales....

.

Character in the novels


In Marquand's novels, Moto calls himself I. A. Moto, though it is made clear in some of the books that this is almost certainly an alias. Most of the novels are about intrigue in Pacific Rim countries in the 1930s. The central character is usually an American, a military veteran, who becomes accidentally enmeshed in the action and meets Moto. The ex-military American character usually does not realize that Mr. Moto is an imperial agent until late in the story.

Mr. Moto is a master at working under cover. Though capable of ruthlessness and deadly violence, he appears to be merely a harmless, easygoing eccentric. Through a series of fast-paced adventures, the characters gradually comprehend how important and formidable Moto really is. Marquand tends to keep Mr. Moto in the background rather than at the center of the action, with the spy's more dramatic exploits typically described second-hand. It lends a further air of mystery to the character.

In the first five novels, set in the era of expansionist Imperial Japan, Mr. Moto is an agent of the empire. In the final novel, set in the 1950s inside Japan, he is a senior intelligence official in the pro-Western Japanese government. This final novel, titled Stopover: Tokyo (a.k.a. Right You Are, Mr. Moto) is a more conventional spy story and a somewhat darker tale than the earlier novels. The American who encounters Mr. Moto is not an innocent abroad but an agent on the trail of a pro-Soviet assassin, and he senses early on that Moto is not what he seems to be. Virtually all the characters in the novel are in the spy business.

Physical description


He is physically described in Think Fast, Mr. Moto:

Mr. Moto was a small man, delicate, almost fragile. … He was dressed formally in a morning coat and striped trousers. His black hair was carefully brushed in the Prussian style. He was smiling, showing a row of shiny gold-filled teeth, and as he smiled he drew in his breath with a polite, soft sibilant sound.


This basic description carries through most of the novels, with the slightly different description in Right You Are, Mr. Moto which is set 20 years later than the first five novels. In this novel he is described as being “middle aged,” and his hair as being “grayish and close-clipped.” In two novels, Marquand describes Mr. Moto's build as "chunky".

He is often described as wearing formal evening clothes that are impeccably tailored. On occasion his sartorial style is somewhat misguided such as in Mr. Moto Is So Sorry
Mr. Moto Is So Sorry
Originally published in serial form in the Saturday Evening Post from July 2 to August 13, 1938, Mr. Moto Is So Sorry was first published in book form in 1938. It is the fourth of six Mr. Moto novels and can also be found in the omnibus Mr...

when he appears in black-and-white checked sports clothes with green and red golf stockings. When his outfits are commented upon, Mr. Moto makes childlike excuses about it.

Personal life


Mr. Moto rarely discourses on his personal life but in Think Fast, Mr. Moto he talks about his many talents.

Yes, I can do many, many things. I can mix drinks and wait on table, and I am a very good valet. I can navigate and manage small boats. I have studied at two foreign universities. I also know carpentry and surveying and five Chinese dialects. So very many things come in useful.


In Mr. Moto Is So Sorry
Mr. Moto Is So Sorry
Originally published in serial form in the Saturday Evening Post from July 2 to August 13, 1938, Mr. Moto Is So Sorry was first published in book form in 1938. It is the fourth of six Mr. Moto novels and can also be found in the omnibus Mr...

he states that one of these foreign universities was in America where he studied Anthropology
Anthropology
Anthropology is the study of humanity. It has origins in the humanities, the natural sciences, and the social sciences. The term "anthropology" is from the Greek anthrōpos , "man", understood to mean mankind or humanity, and -logia , "discourse" or "study", and was first used in 1501 by German...

. It is also noted in this novel that he has enough knowledge of America to be able to distinguish regional accents.

The novels always involve a romance between the main characters (often a disenfranchised expatriate American) and a mysterious woman. While Mr. Moto often despairs of the hero's attempts at saving the girl, he notes in Mr. Moto Is So Sorry
Mr. Moto Is So Sorry
Originally published in serial form in the Saturday Evening Post from July 2 to August 13, 1938, Mr. Moto Is So Sorry was first published in book form in 1938. It is the fourth of six Mr. Moto novels and can also be found in the omnibus Mr...

that he himself is not immune to their charms.


“So often,” he said, “I have seen such gracious ladies disrupt political combinations.” He sighed and still stared at the ceiling seemingly lost in memory. “Such a lovely girl in Washington – I was so much younger then. She sold me the navy plans of a submarine. The price was thirty thousand yen. When the blueprints came, they were of a tugboat. Such a lovely lady. Such a lovely lady in Tokyo. She took me to see the goldfish in her garden, and there were the assassins behind the little trees. Not her fault, but theirs that I am still alive – they were such poor shots. I do no understand lovely ladies, but I still trust them sometimes.”

Politics


While he is a devoted servant of the Emperor, he is often at odds with the Japanese military. He believes in the manifest destiny of the Japanese to expand into China, but unlike the military, wants to achieve this slowly and carefully. Millicent Bell in her biography of John P. Marquand
John P. Marquand
John Phillips Marquand was a American writer. Originally best known for his Mr. Moto spy stories, he achieved popular success and critical respect for his satirical novels, winning a Pulitzer Prize for The Late George Apley in 1938...

 notes how this may have impacted the audience:


There is political significance, too, in the calculated appeal to American readers of the ever resourceful Mr. Moto, the representative of Eastern subtlety combined with Western efficiency, who emerges as a gentleman of wit and charm. Up to 1939 it must have seemed possible to some that Japan would be moderate and reasonable in its expansion in the Far East – that the Mr. Motos would defeat the Japanese military fanatics. Pearl Harbor, of course, put an end to American neutralism as well as to hopes of Japanese moderation – but not before Marquand's Moto series had become one of the most popular fictions ever to be run in an American magazine.

Novels

  • Your Turn, Mr. Moto (aka No Hero and Mr. Moto Takes a Hand (British edition)) (1935) - Originally serialized in the Saturday Evening Post in 1935 under the title, No Hero.
  • Thank You, Mr. Moto
    Thank You, Mr. Moto (novel)
    Thank You, Mr. Moto, was originally published in serial form in the Saturday Evening Post from February 8 to March 14, 1936, this novel was first published in book form in 1936. It is the second of six Mr. Moto novels and can also be found in the omnibus Mr...

     (1936) - Originally serialized in the Saturday Evening Post in 1936. An expatriate American gets involved in intrigue in Peking when he tries to save an American woman from unscrupulous art dealers. Moto tries to save them both from a military takeover of Peking.
  • Think Fast, Mr. Moto (1937) - Originally serialized in the Saturday Evening Post in 1936. The heir to an American banking firm is sent to Honolulu to clear up a family matter involving a gambling house. Moto is also drawn to Hawaii
    Hawaii
    Hawaii is the newest of the 50 U.S. states , and is the only U.S. state made up entirely of islands. It is the northernmost island group in Polynesia, occupying most of an archipelago in the central Pacific Ocean, southwest of the continental United States, southeast of Japan, and northeast of...

     to stop money being channeled into China to support revolutionaries.
  • Mr. Moto Is So Sorry
    Mr. Moto Is So Sorry
    Originally published in serial form in the Saturday Evening Post from July 2 to August 13, 1938, Mr. Moto Is So Sorry was first published in book form in 1938. It is the fourth of six Mr. Moto novels and can also be found in the omnibus Mr...

    (1938) - Originally serialized in the Saturday Evening Post in 1938. An American on the run from authorities encounters Moto on a train journey through China. Moto is on his way to a life-or-death showdown with Russian spies and draws the hapless American into the situation when a secret message accidentally falls into the possession of a beautiful woman.
  • Last Laugh, Mr. Moto (1942) - Originally serialized in Collier's Weekly
    Collier's Weekly
    Collier's Weekly was an American magazine founded by Peter Fenelon Collier and published from 1888 to 1957. With the passage of decades, the title was shortened to Collier's....

     in 1941 under the title Mercator Island.
  • Right You Are, Mr. Moto (aka Stopover: Tokyo and The Last of Mr. Moto) (1957) - Originally serialized in the Saturday Evening Post in 1956 and 1957 under the title Rendezvous in Tokyo. The original book was called Stopover: Tokyo and subsequent editions were called The Last of Mr. Moto and finally Right You Are, Mr. Moto.

Anthologies/"omnibus"

  • Mr. Moto's Three Aces (1939) reprints Thank You, Mr. Moto
    Thank You, Mr. Moto (novel)
    Thank You, Mr. Moto, was originally published in serial form in the Saturday Evening Post from February 8 to March 14, 1936, this novel was first published in book form in 1936. It is the second of six Mr. Moto novels and can also be found in the omnibus Mr...

    ; Think Fast, Mr. Moto; and Mr. Moto Is So Sorry
    Mr. Moto Is So Sorry
    Originally published in serial form in the Saturday Evening Post from July 2 to August 13, 1938, Mr. Moto Is So Sorry was first published in book form in 1938. It is the fourth of six Mr. Moto novels and can also be found in the omnibus Mr...

    .

  • Mr. Moto: Four Complete Novels (1983) reprints Your Turn, Mr. Moto; Think Fast, Mr. Moto; Mr. Moto Is So Sorry
    Mr. Moto Is So Sorry
    Originally published in serial form in the Saturday Evening Post from July 2 to August 13, 1938, Mr. Moto Is So Sorry was first published in book form in 1938. It is the fourth of six Mr. Moto novels and can also be found in the omnibus Mr...

    ; and Right You Are, Mr. Moto.

Character in the films


Between 1937 and 1939 eight motion pictures were produced by 20th Century Fox
20th Century Fox
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation — also known as 20th Century Fox, or simply 20th or Fox — is one of the six major American film studios...

 starring Peter Lorre
Peter Lorre
Peter Lorre was an Austrian-American actor frequently typecast as a sinister foreigner.He caused an international sensation in 1931 with his portrayal of a serial killer who preys on little girls in the German film M...

 as Mr. Kentaro Moto.

Unlike the novels, Moto is the central character, a detective with Interpol, wears glasses (and has no gold teeth), is a devout Buddhist (and good friends with the Chinese monarchy). He is always impeccably dressed in Western suits. The stories are action-oriented due to Moto’s liberal use of judo
Judo
is a modern martial art and combat sport created in Japan in 1882 by Jigoro Kano. Its most prominent feature is its competitive element, where the object is to either throw or takedown one's opponent to the ground, immobilize or otherwise subdue one's opponent with a grappling maneuver, or force an...

 (only hinted at in the novels) and due to his tendency to wear disguises.

Mr. Moto is described as being just over 5 feet tall in the film Danger Island. (Lorre was actually 5 feet 5 inches). While Lorre resented playing Mr. Moto, he is the first authentic martial arts film "hero" in the West.

Abilities


In the film Mr. Moto's Last Warning
Mr. Moto's Last Warning
Mr. Moto’s Last Warning is the sixth in a series of eight films starring Peter Lorre as Mr. Moto. The film is an original story featuring a character created by John P. Marquand.-Plot:...

a list is shown which describes him as:
  • Age 35-40
  • Jiu-Justu
    Jujutsu
    Jujutsu , also known as jujitsu, ju-jitsu, or Japanese jiu-jitsu, is a Japanese martial art and a method of close combat for defeating an armed and armored opponent in which one uses no weapon, or only a short weapon....

     and Judo
    Judo
    is a modern martial art and combat sport created in Japan in 1882 by Jigoro Kano. Its most prominent feature is its competitive element, where the object is to either throw or takedown one's opponent to the ground, immobilize or otherwise subdue one's opponent with a grappling maneuver, or force an...

     expert
  • Uses various disguises
  • International police
  • Adept at stage illusion/magic
  • Usually works alone
  • Able to walk silently
  • Known to use doubles


Throughout the other films other abilities have been noted:
  • Ventriloquism
    Ventriloquism
    Ventriloquism, or ventriloquy, is an act of stagecraft in which a person manipulates his or her voice so that it appears that the voice is coming from elsewhere, usually a puppeteered "dummy"...

  • Able to speak at least four languages (English
    English language
    English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

    , Mandarin, German
    German language
    German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

    , and Japanese
    Japanese language
    is a language spoken by over 130 million people in Japan and in Japanese emigrant communities. It is a member of the Japonic language family, which has a number of proposed relationships with other languages, none of which has gained wide acceptance among historical linguists .Japanese is an...

    )
  • Devout Buddhist who knows traditional chants and religious rites
  • Composes haiku
    Haiku
    ' , plural haiku, is a very short form of Japanese poetry typically characterised by three qualities:* The essence of haiku is "cutting"...

  • Draws caricatures
  • Plays the shamisen
    Shamisen
    The , also called is a three-stringed, Japanese musical instrument played with a plectrum called a bachi. The Japanese pronunciation is usually "shamisen" but sometimes "jamisen" when used as a suffix . -Construction:The shamisen is a plucked stringed instrument...

  • Knows how to cure a hangover

Occupation


The motion picture Mr. Moto’s occupation is defined as an agent for Interpol
Interpol
Interpol, whose full name is the International Criminal Police Organization – INTERPOL, is an organization facilitating international police cooperation...

.

In the first film, Think Fast, Mr. Moto
Think Fast, Mr. Moto
Think Fast, Mr. Moto is a 1937 film about a mysterious Japanese detective named Mr. Moto. It is the first of eight films in the Mr. Moto series, which are all based on Mr. Moto novels written by John P. Marquand. The film stars Peter Lorre as the title character, as well as Virginia Field and...

, he reveals that he is the managing director of the Dai Nippon Trading Company and had decided to investigate the smuggling activities that were hurting his business. He claims to be a detective "only as a hobby." In the second film, Thank You, Mr. Moto, the definition of his occupation/hobby begins to get murky. He tells a woman that he is an importer whose hobby is detective work but only after showing her his identification which indicates he is a Confidential Agent for the International Association of Importers. However, in a climactic chase sequence he flashes a badge at a guard and says that he is from the International Police (to be understood as Interpol).

In subsequent films Mr. Moto works alternately for private organizations such as the Diamond Syndicate (Danger Island) as well as for world governments (Mr. Moto's Last Warning
Mr. Moto's Last Warning
Mr. Moto’s Last Warning is the sixth in a series of eight films starring Peter Lorre as Mr. Moto. The film is an original story featuring a character created by John P. Marquand.-Plot:...

and Mr. Moto Takes a Chance)-- but only when it is in Japan's interests.

As a member of the International Police, he garners respect from local police around the world. In cities such as London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

, Shanghai
Shanghai
Shanghai is the largest city by population in China and the largest city proper in the world. It is one of the four province-level municipalities in the People's Republic of China, with a total population of over 23 million as of 2010...

, and San Francisco he is given full cooperation for his investigations. In Mr. Moto's Last Warning
Mr. Moto's Last Warning
Mr. Moto’s Last Warning is the sixth in a series of eight films starring Peter Lorre as Mr. Moto. The film is an original story featuring a character created by John P. Marquand.-Plot:...

he works side-by-side with British Secret Service agents and in Mr. Moto Takes a Chance he is spying for an unknown government agency. He is also known for his close relationship to the Chinese Royal Family.

Personal life


Mr. Moto's personal life is rarely touched upon. In Think Fast, Mr. Moto
Think Fast, Mr. Moto
Think Fast, Mr. Moto is a 1937 film about a mysterious Japanese detective named Mr. Moto. It is the first of eight films in the Mr. Moto series, which are all based on Mr. Moto novels written by John P. Marquand. The film stars Peter Lorre as the title character, as well as Virginia Field and...

he tells Bob Hitchings that he went to Stanford University
Stanford University
The Leland Stanford Junior University, commonly referred to as Stanford University or Stanford, is a private research university on an campus located near Palo Alto, California. It is situated in the northwestern Santa Clara Valley on the San Francisco Peninsula, approximately northwest of San...

, graduating in 1921 as an honorary member. There he set a pole vaulting record and was a member of the fraternity Alpha Omega.

He travels a great deal but somehow manages to have his cat, Chunkina, along for the journey. Besides his cat, women in his life include Lela Liu (played by Lotus Long in the film Think Fast, Mr. Moto
Think Fast, Mr. Moto
Think Fast, Mr. Moto is a 1937 film about a mysterious Japanese detective named Mr. Moto. It is the first of eight films in the Mr. Moto series, which are all based on Mr. Moto novels written by John P. Marquand. The film stars Peter Lorre as the title character, as well as Virginia Field and...

), a hotel telephone operator whom he asks out on a date, and who proves to be an agent who helps him in his investigation. In Mysterious Mr. Moto another agent, Lotus Liu (also played by Lotus Long credited as Karen Sorrell), pretends to fall for his charms so they can be alone to compare notes in their investigation. Like his literary counterpart, Kentaro Moto believes that a "Beautiful girl is only confusing to a man" but has been known to use a woman’s feelings to aid his cause. In Thank You, Mr. Moto he tells the disillusioned Madame Tchernov, "I am so grateful for your suspicious nature. It is not the first time a woman’s jealousy has been fatal to the man she loved."

Mr. Moto is quite charming and polite (even to rude or obnoxious people). He is always respectful of other cultures but sometimes makes wry comments. For instance, in Think Fast, Mr. Moto
Think Fast, Mr. Moto
Think Fast, Mr. Moto is a 1937 film about a mysterious Japanese detective named Mr. Moto. It is the first of eight films in the Mr. Moto series, which are all based on Mr. Moto novels written by John P. Marquand. The film stars Peter Lorre as the title character, as well as Virginia Field and...

he derails the drunken American’s party tricks with a little judo. After putting the tipsy Bob Hitchings to bed he sadly shakes his head and says, "Strange people these Americans."

Despite his charm, politeness and general respect towards people, Mr. Moto, as befits his occupation, could quickly become dangerous. As portrayed by Lorre, he could also be quite sinister when the need arose.

Mr. Moto’s religion is never stated; but in Thank You, Mr. Moto, when his friend Prince Chung (played by Phillip Ahn) has died, it becomes clear Mr. Moto is a devout Buddhist, as he chants expertly before the statue of the Buddha
Buddha
In Buddhism, buddhahood is the state of perfect enlightenment attained by a buddha .In Buddhism, the term buddha usually refers to one who has become enlightened...

 while holding the prince in his arms.

The family crest or mon on Mr. Moto’s yukata
Yukata
A is a Japanese garment, a casual summer kimono usually made of cotton. People wearing yukata are a common sight in Japan at fireworks displays, bon-odori festivals, and other summer events. The yukata is also frequently worn after bathing at traditional Japanese inns...

, as seen in the films Thank You, Mr. Moto and Mr. Moto Takes a Vacation, is three bars in a circle. This is similar to the Maruno uchini mitsuhikiryō (丸の内に三引両), the mon of the Sakuma clan who served under Oda Nobunaga
Oda Nobunaga
was the initiator of the unification of Japan under the shogunate in the late 16th century, which ruled Japan until the Meiji Restoration in 1868. He was also a major daimyo during the Sengoku period of Japanese history. His opus was continued, completed and finalized by his successors Toyotomi...

. This would imply that Moto is from a samurai
Samurai
is the term for the military nobility of pre-industrial Japan. According to translator William Scott Wilson: "In Chinese, the character 侍 was originally a verb meaning to wait upon or accompany a person in the upper ranks of society, and this is also true of the original term in Japanese, saburau...

 family.

Other films


A film version of Stopover Tokyo
Stopover Tokyo
Stopover Tokyo is a 1957 American espionage drama directed by Richard L. Breen and starring Robert Wagner, Joan Collins, Edmond O'Brien and Ken Scott. Filmed in Japan in CinemaScope, the film is set in Tokyo and follows a US counterintelligence agent foiling a communist assassination plot.The film...

, made in 1957, stars Robert Wagner
Robert Wagner
Robert John Wagner is an American actor of stage, screen, and television.A veteran of many films in the 1950s and 1960s, Wagner gained prominence in three American television series that spanned three decades: It Takes a Thief , Switch , and Hart to Hart...

 as an American spy. This film eliminated Moto's character altogether. It disregards the plot of Marquand's novel, and was not a commercial or critical success.

In 1965 Mr. Moto's character was revived in a low-budget Robert Lippert production filmed in England starring Henry Silva. In Mr. Moto Returns, a.k.a. The Return of Mr. Moto
The Return of Mr. Moto
The Return of Mr. Moto is a 1965 British crime film directed by Ernest Morris and starring Henry Silva, Terence Longdon and Suzanne Lloyd. Mr. Moto is brought in by British intelligence to assist them in their investigation of a plot to drive a major oil company out of business.-Cast:* Henry Silva...

, Mr. I.A. Moto is now a member of Interpol
Interpol
Interpol, whose full name is the International Criminal Police Organization – INTERPOL, is an organization facilitating international police cooperation...

. The extremely tall Silva conveyed an almost James Bond
James Bond
James Bond, code name 007, is a fictional character created in 1953 by writer Ian Fleming, who featured him in twelve novels and two short story collections. There have been a six other authors who wrote authorised Bond novels or novelizations after Fleming's death in 1964: Kingsley Amis,...

-like playboy character; in the fight scenes he is clearly not proficient in martial arts. He speaks in a lazy 'Beatnik
Beatnik
Beatnik was a media stereotype of the 1950s and early 1960s that displayed the more superficial aspects of the Beat Generation literary movement of the 1950s and violent film images, along with a cartoonish depiction of the real-life people and the spiritual quest in Jack Kerouac's autobiographical...

' manner. Nowhere in the film is it even mentioned that Moto is Japanese. He is referred to as an "oriental" and, oddly, in the trailer, Moto is referred to as a “swinging Chinese cat.” It is only when he is disguised as a Japanese oil representative, Mr. Takura, that a more stereotypical portrayal of a Japanese businessman is given.

Mr. Moto filmography

  • Think Fast, Mr. Moto
    Think Fast, Mr. Moto
    Think Fast, Mr. Moto is a 1937 film about a mysterious Japanese detective named Mr. Moto. It is the first of eight films in the Mr. Moto series, which are all based on Mr. Moto novels written by John P. Marquand. The film stars Peter Lorre as the title character, as well as Virginia Field and...

    (1937) is loosely based on Marquand
    John P. Marquand
    John Phillips Marquand was a American writer. Originally best known for his Mr. Moto spy stories, he achieved popular success and critical respect for his satirical novels, winning a Pulitzer Prize for The Late George Apley in 1938...

    's novel of the same name. Mr. Kentaro Moto is introduced in disguise as a rug seller in San Francisco. He reveals himself as the Moto we are more familiar with about 10 minutes into the film when he boards a ship to Shanghai
    Shanghai
    Shanghai is the largest city by population in China and the largest city proper in the world. It is one of the four province-level municipalities in the People's Republic of China, with a total population of over 23 million as of 2010...

     in order to investigate a smuggling ring.

  • Thank You, Mr. Moto (1937) - Marquand wrote the story for this film based loosely on his novel
    Thank You, Mr. Moto (novel)
    Thank You, Mr. Moto, was originally published in serial form in the Saturday Evening Post from February 8 to March 14, 1936, this novel was first published in book form in 1936. It is the second of six Mr. Moto novels and can also be found in the omnibus Mr...

    . In disguise once again as a Mongolian trader in the Gobi desert, Moto makes his way to Peking
    Beijing
    Beijing , also known as Peking , is the capital of the People's Republic of China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of 19,612,368 as of 2010. The city is the country's political, cultural, and educational center, and home to the headquarters for most of China's...

     where he tries to obtain a set of ancient scrolls that lead the way to the treasure of Genghis Khan
    Genghis Khan
    Genghis Khan , born Temujin and occasionally known by his temple name Taizu , was the founder and Great Khan of the Mongol Empire, which became the largest contiguous empire in history after his death....

    . At the end, he fulfills an obligation to his dying friend and destroys the scrolls so no one will ever violate the treasure.

  • Mr. Moto's Gamble
    Mr. Moto's Gamble
    Mr. Moto's Gamble is the third film in the Mr. Moto series starring Peter Lorre as the title character. It was released in 1938. It was originally intended to be a Charlie Chan film called Charlie Chan at Ringside, but Warner Oland, who had played Chan in several previous films, left the set after...

    a.k.a. Mr. Moto's Diary (1938) was originally meant for the Charlie Chan
    Charlie Chan
    Charlie Chan is a fictional Chinese-American detective created by Earl Derr Biggers in 1919. Loosely based on Honolulu detective Chang Apana, Biggers conceived of the benevolent and heroic Chan as an alternative to Yellow Peril stereotypes, such as villains like Fu Manchu...

     series starring Warner Oland
    Warner Oland
    Warner Oland was a Swedish American actor most remembered for his screen role as the detective Charlie Chan.-Biography:He was born Johan Verner Ölund in the village of Nyby, Bjurholm Municipality,...

    . Parts were re-written to make it a Moto film; but Keye Luke
    Keye Luke
    Keye Luke was a Chinese-born American actor. He was the first Chinese-American contract player signed with RKO, Universal and, later, MGM and is generally acknowledged as the leading Asian-American actor of this era of American cinema.-Background:...

    , as Chan's son Lee, remained. Moto is now famous enough as a detective to be giving a class in criminology in San Francisco. While at a boxing match, Moto is drawn into a murder investigation.

  • Mr. Moto Takes a Chance
    Mr. Moto Takes a Chance
    Mr. Moto Takes a Chance is the fourth in a series of eight films starring Peter Lorre as Mr. Moto. The film is based on the character of Mr. Moto created by John P. Marquand, and an original story by Norman Foster and Willis Cooper called Look Out, Mr. Moto.-Plot:Over the ruins of Angkor Wat in...

    (1938) — Undercover as an archeologist in Thailand
    Thailand
    Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

    , Moto is trying to find out who is the head of a revolutionary army that is smuggling guns and explosives into the tiny village of Tong Moi.

  • Mysterious Mr. Moto
    Mysterious Mr. Moto
    Mysterious Mr. Moto is the fifth in a series of eight films starring Peter Lorre as Mr. Moto produced in 1938 by Twentieth Century Fox. The film is based on the character of Mr. Moto created by John P. Marquand, and an original screenplay by Philip MacDonald and Norman Foster.-Synopsis:The film...

    (1938) — Marquand wrote the story for this film. Posing as a Japanese murderer, Moto escapes from Devil’s Island with a member of the League of Assassins in order to find out not only who is their next victim but who is the mysterious man at the top.

  • Mr. Moto's Last Warning
    Mr. Moto's Last Warning
    Mr. Moto’s Last Warning is the sixth in a series of eight films starring Peter Lorre as Mr. Moto. The film is an original story featuring a character created by John P. Marquand.-Plot:...

    (1939) — In Port Said
    Port Said
    Port Said is a city that lies in north east Egypt extending about 30 km along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, north of the Suez Canal, with an approximate population of 603,787...

    , Egypt
    Egypt
    Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

    , Moto tries to stop the French Naval Fleet from being destroyed by secret agents who are bent on starting a war between the British and the French.

  • Danger Island (1939), based on the novel Murder in Trinidad by John W. Vandercook. Diamond smugglers are working out of Puerto Rico
    Puerto Rico
    Puerto Rico , officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico , is an unincorporated territory of the United States, located in the northeastern Caribbean, east of the Dominican Republic and west of both the United States Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands.Puerto Rico comprises an...

     and Moto is sent to investigate and discover their secret lair.

  • Mr. Moto Takes a Vacation (1939) — While pretending to be on vacation in San Francisco, Moto is actually keeping an eye on the crown of the Queen of Sheba, surefire bait for the master thief known as Metaxa.

  • The Return of Mr. Moto
    The Return of Mr. Moto
    The Return of Mr. Moto is a 1965 British crime film directed by Ernest Morris and starring Henry Silva, Terence Longdon and Suzanne Lloyd. Mr. Moto is brought in by British intelligence to assist them in their investigation of a plot to drive a major oil company out of business.-Cast:* Henry Silva...

    (1965) — Henry Silva in title role.

Character in the graphic novel


The graphic novel Welcome Back, Mr. Moto by Rafael Nieves and Tim Hamilton published by Moonstone Books
Moonstone Books
Moonstone Books is an American comic book, graphic novel, and prose fiction publisher based in Chicago focused on pulp fiction comic books and prose anthologies as well as horror and western tales....

 in 2008 portrays Mr. Moto as an American of Japanese descent helping Japanese-American citizens after World War II.

The graphic novel was originally published in 2003 as a 3-issue comic book miniseries:


Ken Ta Kashi, an angry young man of Japanese descent, is released from an Idaho detainment camp at the end of WW II. Estranged from his mother and sister, enraged at the mysterious death of his beloved father, Ken is easily trapped in a web of deceit, double-cross, and death by sinister forces in the U.S. government.

Character in the radio program


From May to October 1951, the NBC
NBC
The National Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network and former radio network headquartered in the GE Building in New York City's Rockefeller Center with additional major offices near Los Angeles and in Chicago...

 Broadcasting network produced and aired 23 half-hour episodes starring James Monk as Mr. I.A. Moto, International Secret Agent. Mr. Moto is an American of Japanese descent born in San Francisco but still retaining his international connections.

The show focused on Mr. Moto’s fight against Communism although occasionally he also solved more mundane mysteries such as murder and blackmail.

Radio program episode list

  1. A Force Called X07 – aired May 20, 1951
  2. Smoke Screen – aired May 27, 1951
  3. Blackmail – aired June 3, 1951
  4. The Dead Land – aired June 10, 1951
  5. The Kurlioff Papers (broadcast on the West Coast) – aired June 13, 1951 and The Brazaloff Papers (broadcast on the East Coast) – aired June 17, 1951
  6. The Victim – aired June 24, 1951
  7. Project 77 – aired July 1, 1951
  8. Sabotage – aired July 8, 1951
  9. Escape – aired July 15, 1951
  10. The Wheel of Life
  11. The Yellow Robe or the Lama's Amah
  12. The Voronzoff Necklace
  13. Waltzing Matilda
  14. The Beauty and the Avenger
  15. The Shen Tsung Fan
  16. The Three Numbers
  17. The Unhappy Firebug
  18. The Blue Cigarettes
  19. The Kants of Kailuaneohe
  20. The Schraum Method – aired Oct. 1, 1951
  21. The Crooked Log – aired Oct. 7, 1951
  22. The Strange Elopement of Professor Sloan – aired Oct. 13, 1951
  23. The Dry Martini – aired Oct. 20, 1951

Parodies and satires


Peter Lorre brought the character of Mr. Moto to many comedy radio programs.
  • Camel Caravan
    Camel Caravan
    Camel Caravan was a musical variety radio program, sponsored by Camel cigarettes, that aired on NBC Radio and CBS Radio from 1933 to 1954...

    Oct. 24, 1938 on CBS
    CBS
    CBS Broadcasting Inc. is a major US commercial broadcasting television network, which started as a radio network. The name is derived from the initials of the network's former name, Columbia Broadcasting System. The network is sometimes referred to as the "Eye Network" in reference to the shape of...

    . Eddie Cantor
    Eddie Cantor
    Eddie Cantor was an American "illustrated song" performer, comedian, dancer, singer, actor and songwriter...

    , host. Peter Lorre as Mr. Moto investigates the disappearance of guest Martha Raye
    Martha Raye
    Martha Raye was an American comic actress and standards singer who performed in movies, and later on television....

    .

  • Royal Gelatin Hour Aug. 10, 1939 on NBC
    NBC
    The National Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network and former radio network headquartered in the GE Building in New York City's Rockefeller Center with additional major offices near Los Angeles and in Chicago...

    . Rudy Vallee
    Rudy Vallée
    Rudy Vallée was an American singer, actor, bandleader, and entertainer.-Early life:Born Hubert Prior Vallée in Island Pond, Vermont, the son of Charles Alphonse and Catherine Lynch Vallée...

    , host. Peter Lorre as Mr. Moto in a mystery sketch.

  • George Jessel’s Celebrity Program Aug. 16, 1939 on NBC
    NBC
    The National Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network and former radio network headquartered in the GE Building in New York City's Rockefeller Center with additional major offices near Los Angeles and in Chicago...

    . George Jessel
    George Jessel (actor)
    George Albert Jessel was an American illustrated song "model," actor, singer, songwriter, and Academy Award-winning movie producer. He was famous in his lifetime as a multitalented comedic entertainer, achieving a level of recognition that transcended his limited roles in movies...

    , host. Peter Lorre as Mr. Moto in a mystery sketch.

  • Texaco Star Theater
    Texaco Star Theater
    Texaco Star Theater is an American comedy-variety show, broadcast on radio from 1938 to 1949 and telecast from 1948 to 1956. It was one of the first successful examples of American television broadcasting, remembered as the show that gave Milton Berle the nickname "Mr...

    Oct. 4, 1939 on CBS
    CBS
    CBS Broadcasting Inc. is a major US commercial broadcasting television network, which started as a radio network. The name is derived from the initials of the network's former name, Columbia Broadcasting System. The network is sometimes referred to as the "Eye Network" in reference to the shape of...

    . Ken Murray, host. Peter Lorre as Mr. Moto in a mystery sketch.

  • Texaco Star Theater
    Texaco Star Theater
    Texaco Star Theater is an American comedy-variety show, broadcast on radio from 1938 to 1949 and telecast from 1948 to 1956. It was one of the first successful examples of American television broadcasting, remembered as the show that gave Milton Berle the nickname "Mr...

    Jan. 3, 1943 on CBS
    CBS
    CBS Broadcasting Inc. is a major US commercial broadcasting television network, which started as a radio network. The name is derived from the initials of the network's former name, Columbia Broadcasting System. The network is sometimes referred to as the "Eye Network" in reference to the shape of...

    . Fred Allen
    Fred Allen
    Fred Allen was an American comedian whose absurdist, topically pointed radio show made him one of the most popular and forward-looking humorists in the so-called classic era of American radio.His best-remembered gag was his long-running mock feud with friend and fellow comedian Jack Benny, but it...

    , host. Peter Lorre as Mr. Moto in “The Missing Shot or Who Killed Balsam Beamish?” Mr. Moto vs. One Long Pan.

  • Texaco Star Theater
    Texaco Star Theater
    Texaco Star Theater is an American comedy-variety show, broadcast on radio from 1938 to 1949 and telecast from 1948 to 1956. It was one of the first successful examples of American television broadcasting, remembered as the show that gave Milton Berle the nickname "Mr...

    June 4, 1944 on CBS
    CBS
    CBS Broadcasting Inc. is a major US commercial broadcasting television network, which started as a radio network. The name is derived from the initials of the network's former name, Columbia Broadcasting System. The network is sometimes referred to as the "Eye Network" in reference to the shape of...

    . Fred Allen
    Fred Allen
    Fred Allen was an American comedian whose absurdist, topically pointed radio show made him one of the most popular and forward-looking humorists in the so-called classic era of American radio.His best-remembered gag was his long-running mock feud with friend and fellow comedian Jack Benny, but it...

    , host. Peter Lorre as Mr. Moto in “More Murder on the Fred Allen Program.”


Porky's Movie Mystery (1939) Features Porky Pig
Porky Pig
Porky Pig is an animated cartoon character in the Warner Bros. Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series of cartoons. He was the first character created by the studio to draw audiences based on his star power, and the animators created many critically acclaimed shorts using the fat little pig...

as the detective "Mr. Motto."
"A mysterious phantom is causing trouble at the Warner Bros. studios. The police call in Mr. Motto (Porky) to investigate."

Further reading


— Contains a full chapter on the making of the Mr. Moto films at 20th Century-Fox, 1937-1939. — Biography of the creator of Mr. Moto.

External links