23 April 2009 | MartinHafer
If Archibald Featherstone had been killed in the first five minutes, this could have been a good film
Between 1937 and 1939, Twentieth Century-Fox made a ton of Mr. Moto films. However, towards the end of the series, it was obvious that the studio had "jumped the shark", so to speak. This phrase indicates that a TV show has passed its prime and the executives in charge decided to invigorate the show by fundamentally changing the formula. For example, with "The Brady Bunch" they introduced the annoying 'Cousin Oliver' and with "Family Ties" they introduced a freak baby who grew up six years in only one season! With the Moto films, they'd jumped the shark by introducing comic relief because they thought that these intelligent films needed to be re-tooled. In the previous film, Warren Hymer played an annoying wrestler. And, in this film the character Archibald Featherstone appears. Featherstone might just be one of the most annoying examples of comic relief ever, as you kept hoping someone (preferably Moto) would kill him just to shut him up!! Although he's supposed to work for the famed Scotland Yard, he shows all the intelligence and acumen of a brain damaged turnip. Again and again, his scenes were boorish and unnecessary and Peter Lorre just looks pained as he stands there and watches this buffoon "act". It's so bad that it truly destroys what COULD have been one of the better Moto films due to its clever plot.
As for the plot, the crown of the Queen of Sheba is discovered in the opening scene. Moto, now more of an international policeman than the amoral character he originally was, is on hand to protect the precious item from being stolen. In a great twist, several thieves all try to steal the crown independently of each other.
Overall, the film is watchable but is also ample evidence that the Moto series should have ended here. With WWII approaching, the films couldn't have survived much longer anyway, as having a sympathetic Japanese leading character simply wouldn't have been accepted in the US or in allied countries.