Mr. Moto's Gamble

Mr. Moto's Gamble
Directed by James Tinling
Produced by John Stone
Sol M. Wurtzel (uncredited)
Written by Charles Belden
Jerry Cady
Based on characters created by John P. Marquand
Starring Peter Lorre
Keye Luke
Dick Baldwin
Lynn Bari
Cinematography Lucien Andriot
Edited by Nick DeMaggio
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • April 7, 1938 (1938-04-07)
Running time
72 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Mr. Moto's Gamble is the third film in the Mr. Moto series starring Peter Lorre as the title character.

It is best remembered for originating as a movie in the Charlie Chan series and being changed to a Mr Moto entry at the last minute.


In San Francisco, policeman Lieutenant Riggs (Harold Huber) takes detective Mr. Moto and student Lee Chan (Keye Luke) to a prizefight between Bill Steele (Dick Baldwin) and Frank Stanton (Russ Clark), where the winner will take on the champion, Biff Moran (Ward Bond). However, the fight is fixed and gangster Nick Crowder (Douglas Fowley) bets big money that Stanton won't make it to the fifth round. He goes down in the fourth and dies shortly afterward.

Bookie Clipper McCoy (Bernard Nedell) loses a fortune. Mr. Moto proves that it was murder and it is revealed that $100,000 was won in bets around the country against Stanton. Mr. Moto works with Lt. Riggs to solve the murder as the championship fight looms.

Comedy is provided by Wellington (Maxie Rosenbloom), a kleptomaniac, and Lee Chan. Love interest comes from Lynn Bari and Jayne Regan. Mr. Moto promised to reveal the murderer's identity on the night of the big fight, but the murderer has plans, too, with a concealed gun, set up to kill Mr Moto.

The film also features (John Hamilton) as Philip Benton.



When 20th Century Fox announced the Mr Moto series, the third one was always going to be called Mr Moto's Gamble. At the same time, the studio announced three Charlie Chan movies starring Warner Oland, Charlie Chan on Broadway, Charlie Chan at College and Charlie Chan in Radio City.[1] It was announced the studio wanted Rochelle Hudson for Mr Moto's Gamble.[2]

Fox commenced production on a Charlie Chan film called Charlie Chan at Ringside. However Warner Oland left the set due to illness and the film had to be abandoned in January 1938. (In March it was announced Oland would return to the role and appear in Charlie Chan on the Clipper Ship.[3] However he was never well enough to resume working and died in August. Sidney Toler took over the role of Charlie Chan.[4])

Fox had spent an estimated $100,000 on the film already when shooting had to be called off. Wanting to salvage something of the situation, Sol Wurtzel, head of Fox's B movie unit, had the script was rewritten as a Mr. Moto movie. Two Charlie Chan regulars appeared in the film - Keye Luke, who plays Charlie Chan's son Lee, and Harold Hubert, who plays Lt Riggs.[5] Lee Chan is Mr. Moto's student in his criminology class at San Francisco University. Mr. Moto mentions that he has heard from Charlie Chan in Honolulu. Mr. Moto says he and the head of the homicide squad are mere amateurs compared to Charlie Chan.[6]

Filming recommenced in January 1938.[7] Lon Chaney Jr. had a small role.[8]


The New York Times liked the fight sequences but called it "an otherwise unexciting film".[9]

Home Video Release

This film, along with Mr. Moto in Danger Island, Mr. Moto's Last Warning, Mr. Moto Takes a Vacation and (as a DVD extra) The Return of Mr. Moto, was released on DVD in 2007 by 20th Century Fox as part of The Mr. Moto Collection, Volume Two.

See also


  1. FOX LISTS FILMS FOR NEXT SEASON: 66 Features Are Included in Company's Most Ambitious Production Schedule 204 SHORTS TO BE MADE Zanuck Will Supervise 52 Long Pictures at 20th Century Studios in Beverly Hills New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 02 June 1937: 20.
  2. CHAPLIN SETS OCTOBER DEAD LINE FOR START OF GODDARD PRODUCTION: T. C.-Fox Lists Screen Plays for Annabella Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 09 July 1937: A17.
  3. NEWS OF THE SCREEN: Metro to Film 'Northwest Passage' in Color-Dick Powell Cast for Remake of 'The Hottentot' Heavier Role for Dick Powell Of Local Origin Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 07 Mar 1938: 13.
  4. When East Met North Dewey, DonaldView Profile. Scandinavian Review97.3 (Autumn 2010): 70-79.
  5. The De Marcos, Dancers, Want To Be Actors: Ballroom Specialists Decline Film Offer That Re- fuse Them Lines to Speak. By Frederick C. Othman.. The Washington Post (1923-1954) [Washington, D.C] 09 Feb 1938: X16.
  6. SCANDINAVIAN COUNTRIES WILL BE SCOURED FOR SCREEN SUBJECTS: Jack Oakie to Appear With Astaire, Rogers Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 28 Jan 1938: 10.
  7. NEWS OF THE SCREEN: Marie Wilson Gets Leading Role in 'Boy Meets Girl'--Sonja Henie's 'Happy Landing' Opens Here Today Harlow Novel Is Scheduled Coast Scripts Of Local Origin La Rue-Barnett at Loew's State YIDDISH WEEK-END PLAYS ' Warsaw at Night' and 'A Groom Without a Bride' to Open Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 21 Jan 1938: 15.
  8. BRUSH STROKES Millier, Arthur. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 06 Mar 1938: C4.
  9. THE SCREEN: ' The Adventures of Marco Polo' on Music Hall Screen--'Judge Hardy's Children' and 'Mr. Moto's Gamble' At the Capitol Owen to Attend Meeting By FRANK S. NUGENT. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 08 Apr 1938: 17.
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