Thank You, Mr. Moto

The treasure of Genghis Khan lies buried with him in a forest near the Gobi Desert. Prince Chung and his mother (lady-in-waiting to the Empress) guard the secret of its whereabouts on six of the seven painted scrolls that form a map.

Certain foreign powers want the treasure, Mr. Moto obtains the seventh scroll from a lamasery in the Gobi.

 

 

Mr. Moto’s Last Warning

Foster cuts on the Eisenstein model, rapidly, reliably (which is to say, it relies on great shots, and Foster has bagfuls of them), and without repetitions. His ability to regulate the pace of the progression is a major point of characterization, and he is also very dexterous in his camera movements, which are often discrete shots in themselves.

Add a rich devotion to details, and you have a film never lacking in interest. This one is surprisingly similar to The Quiller Memorandum, though George Sanders appears on the other side in Mr. Moto’s Last Warning.

 

Journey into Fear

One of the most brilliant films in all the cinema.

“A Mercury Production”.

Welles spent some years working out the implications, notably in The Fountain of Youth.

RKO were notable cowards, the point had to be made, and then there was the war, Col. Haki for Stalin (the posters in Batumi clued no-one in, T.S. of the New York Times found Welles’ performance “overdrawn”).

The American ballistics expert in Istanbul, the Nazis want him dead.

“It falls away,” says an admiring Tom Milne (Time Out Film Guide).

Halliwell’s Film Guide pronounces it “highly enjoyable”.

Huston is a kindred spirit in Across the Pacific and Beat the Devil, the assassin’s gramophone recurs in J. Lee Thompson’s CaboBlanco, the nightclub singer’s Turkish “boop-a-doop hi-de-hoy” in the Brooksfilm To Be or Not to Be (dir. Alan Johnson). “You are a military objective.”

The camerawork is ultrafine and virtuosic.

The archŠological theme of Billy Wilder’s Five Graves to Cairo is practically simultaneous. Aldrich’s The Angry Hills is a noteworthy analysis. The score by Roy Webb deserves praise. The finale is a notable Hitchcockism (cp. The Stranger, dir. Orson Welles).

The beautiful surreal construction of an interrupted honeymoon recurs in the later version of Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much.

 

La Hora de la Verdad

Foster’s delicate apperception finds in this Jane Eyre variant something approximating the mind of Mexico amid the nineteenth-century trappings and twentieth-century cosmopolitanism and vaquero sensibility, all very confidently lit to bring out every nuance of the personages.

Ricardo Montalban is a torero whose first wife goes mad and is committed. His second is appalled at the sight of the first and leaves him, he takes to drink and is gored. The first wife dies, amends are made, he makes a comeback and is killed.

Mexican critics are wont to say this is the best bullfighting film they have made. The extraordinary final scene has Montalban facing a listless bull and booed more and more intensely, a shocking spectacle at the ring. But he holds out and a feisty bull gives him a chance to display his art. At the moment of truth, he is gored and carried off to die away from the camera, and the erotic symbolism is concluded with a long shot of his widow walking despondently into the now-empty ring.

Some good jokes, too. At a bar and out of the action, Montalban suddenly hears the blare of the corrida. “I put my money in,” says a man standing at the jukebox, “for ‘Pistol-Packin’ Mama’ (he names the song in English) and this is what I get.”

The sheer eloquence of Foster’s understatement is nowhere more evident than in the sight of Montalban attired for the ring, a natural but heightened expression of his world.

More jokes. Why does the disgraced bullfighter drink? “No puedo, bebo,” he says. A promoter ponders the profession, “So much fighting, so much suffering, just to give people a pleasant afternoon.” Foster inserts a reaction shot of a reporter looking up briefly at this and back down to his paper with a comical tinge of scorn.

 

Davy Crockett and the River Pirates

Mike Fink eats his hat, phony redskins bite the dust.

Hathaway takes much of this and the location for “The River” in How the West Was Won.

Keelboat race from Kaintuck to New Orleans by way o’ Dead Man’s Chute and the bayou.

Chickasaws is plenty mad, fellow Injuns is bein’ slaughtered, only they ain’t, it’s a gang o’ thieves dressed up like Injuns to waylay and butcher all river traffic, bringing reprisals on the tribes.

Mike Fink, King of the River, joins the King of the Wild Frontier and G. Russell to bust the gang up.

Exceptionally vigorous performances are the norm.

Similar situations were faced by The Cisco Kid in The Gay Amigo (dir. Wallace Fox) and The A-Team in “Lease with an Option to Die” (dir. David Hemmings).