When the #1 heavyweight contender is mysteriously poisoned during a bout, Moto knows that identifying the gambler who placed large bets against him is the key to solving the murder.When the #1 heavyweight contender is mysteriously poisoned during a bout, Moto knows that identifying the gambler who placed large bets against him is the key to solving the murder.When the #1 heavyweight contender is mysteriously poisoned during a bout, Moto knows that identifying the gambler who placed large bets against him is the key to solving the murder.
Bad blood exists between Bill Steele and Frankie Stanton, the leading contenders for the heavyweight title, and a grudge match is scheduled. Steele's knockout victory is tainted by his opponent's untimely death, ostensibly from a concussion caused by hitting the canvas. A post-mortem reveals that poison was somehow introduced into a cut above Stanton's eye although it is unclear how and why. Gambling might seem to be the motive as several of the principle suspects, gamblers Clipper McCoy and Nick Crowder, Stanton's shady manager Jerry Connors, and fight promoter Philip Benton, all seemed to have made wagers on the fight. Benton's spoiled daughter and female reporter Penny Kendall are vying for the affections of Steele, who is now slated to fight for the championship against pugnacious Biff Moran. Lt. Riggs of New York Homicide and Moto, who were spectators at the fight, go on the trail of the murderer following the autopsy results. Moto's prime suspect is a shadowy character named John Howard, who collected on huge bets in four different Midwestrern cities after the Stanton fight. Discovering his real identity will be a key to Moto's TKO of the killer. —Gabe Taverney (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Mr. Moto's Gamble (1938) ***
I'd consider this one of the better of Peter Lorre's eight Mr. Moto films, with a good story of ringside gambling and crooks. The mysterious Japanese investigator must unravel what happened when a boxer was killed during a match. This one's got a well rounded cast too, beginning with Keye Luke making an appearance as none other than Charlie Chan's son, who is enrolled in a class which Mr. Moto is teaching. Also featuring Lon Chaney Jr. as a thug, and John Hamilton (Perry White on TV's SUPERMAN), too. Former real-life boxer-turned-actor Maxie Roosenbloom is the dimwitted comic relief. While watching and enjoying this entry I had the feeling that this was not in the same mold as previous Moto films I've seen. It was after the movie ended that I learned why via an informative bonus feature on the DVD -- MR. MOTO'S GAMBLE was originally scripted to be another Warner Oland Charlie Chan film for Fox, but Oland was having problems at the time, so the script was rebooted as a Mr. Moto film, with Peter Lorre practically doing Warner Oland. *** out of ****
- May 9, 2008
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