Skip to content

Mr. Moto’s Gamble (1938)

Through a rather strange set of circumstances, Peter Lorre finds himself solving a murder centered around the fight game where Ward Bond takes on Dick Baldwin for the Heavyweight Championship.

I say strange due to the fact that the original script had the title Charlie Chan at The Ringside and was to feature the popular Warner Oland returning to his most famous role.

mr. moto

Our revised feature begins with Lorre teaching a class on criminology. Two students stand out prominently. Maxie Rosenbloom and Keye Luke still cast here as Lee Chan, Charlie’s number one son. It’s at this point that Keye mentions to Lorre, “Pop sends his best.” A line inserted into the script to help explain the appearance of Keye crossing over into Lorre’s series of mysteries.

The trio find themselves at a fight featuring up and comer Baldwin. Baldwin wins the fight by KO but his opponent dies shortly after being stopped. It seems he was poisoned and Baldwin is implicated. Could it be possible that there was a poisonous substance on his gloves? Lorre as Moto looks appropriately suspicious and begins to investigate the numerous bookies, gamblers and underworld figures attending the fight.

moto's gamble pic

While Lorre arranges for the fight between Baldwin and Bond to take place, Keye and Maxie team up to solve the mysterious crime. As is usual in the Chan films, Keye is the comedy relief and makes for a great pairing with Maxie as they bungle their way towards the climax of the film only to find the proceedings will be long solved by the time they arrive there.

moto lobby card

This outing in the Chan/Moto world once again is treated with a top flight production for a series thanks to home studio 20th Century Fox. A parcel full of familiar faces filling out the cast adds to the fun from our vantage point looking back. Mixed in are Harold Huber as a Police Inspector. Huber had played the same type of role in an earlier Chan film and implies as much to Keye in the film, thus continuing to combine the two film series. Lynn Bari, Douglas Fowley and John Hamilton (Superman’s Perry White) also turn up.

Noticeably in the background is Lon Chaney Jr. as a henchman with few lines but an imposing figure. Lon as well had previously apeared in a bit role in Charlie Chan on Broadway and would also turn up in the Sidney Toler Chan title, City In Darkness before Universal Studios made him a staple of the horror genre giving him everlasting fame.

ward bond in moto

John Ford regular Ward Bond who here is playing the imaginary Heavyweight Champion of the world would actually play the real life John L. Sullivan in a magnificent performance opposite Errol Flynn’s Gentleman Jim in 1942.

Gamble wound up as a Moto series entry due to the health of Warner Oland. Shortly after the Chan film commenced, Oland begged off due to ongoing personal demons and issues. When it became apparent that the studio only had about half of a completed film and Oland’s reappearance seemed doomed, the studio had the writers doctor the script and we wound up with the third Moto film of eight that Peter would star in. Gamble would be released to the public in March of 1938.

Warner Oland died in August of 1938 bringing to an end his reign as the famed sleuth. Sadly it spelled the end of Keye as Lee Chan as well. Though he would make a couple of films ten years later with eventual Chan, Roland Winters, the magic was gone. When Sidney Toler moved in to the role and made it his own, Victor Sen Yung was brought successfully in as Number 2 son, Jimmy Chan.

motogambleluke

Easily the most intriguing Moto film for what happened off screen this Gamble proved successful in that it joined the fun of both series into one film thanks largely to Lorre and Keye. I never tire of revisiting the sleuth films of the studio era and if forced to pick just one detective to take to a desert isle for repeated viewings, it would have to be Chan.

The wonderful banter between Oland and Luke play a large part in that decision.

3 Comments »

  1. An interesting accidental crossover that works well. I’d place the Moto films overall a notch below the Chan series, but that’s not really any criticism. I have a real soft spot for pretty much any series detectives and never tire of watching them.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

"DESTROY ALL FANBOYS!"

Smashing System Bias Since 1972...

Movies ala Mark

With a Cast of Thousands

Classic Horrors

From silent screen to Halloween, and everything scary in between.

Just Hit Play

The Good, the Bad and sometimes Ugly in film

Strother Martin Film Project

What we've got here is failure to communicate

Sophia Riley Kobacker

it's all about the story, possums...

Wolfmans Cult Film

Cult, B-Movies, cheesy fun films to Film Noir to classics new to me.

Talking Pulp

All things pulp and then some

cinema cities

a personal odyssey through film

Mark David Welsh

Watching the strangest movies - so you don't have to...

Scenes from the Morgue

The Lost Art of Pulp Ads: Film, Booze, Smokes & More!

Film Speech

All things film and television

Diary of A Movie Maniac

A Personal Journey Through Cinema & Television

portraitsbyjenni

My perspective on life & Classic Movie Recommendations

Statis Pro 1978 Replay

Methodically replaying every game of the 1978 baseball season!

4 Star Films

Looking Deeper at The Best Classic Movies of All Time

everythingnoir

Movies, Television, Books....Everything Noir

Chaplin-Keaton-Lloyd film locations (and more)

by John Bengtson "the great detective of silent film locations" New York Times

Sister Celluloid

Where old movies go to live

Silent-ology

Uncovering the silent era

The Canadian Cinephile

“Film lovers are sick people.” ― François Truffaut

Noirish

The annex to John Grant's *A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Film Noir*

Cinema Monolith

Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.

Sunset Boulevard

Writings of a Cinephile

The Bogie Film Blog

A Film by Film Affair with Humphrey Bogart

Vienna's Classic Hollywood

Vintage Hollywood films and stars

The Film Authority

You're ten seconds from watching an amazing film...

Once upon a screen...

...a classic film and TV blog

shadowsandsatin

. . where the worlds of film noir and pre-code collide . .

Alfred Hitchcock Master

Where Suspense Lives!

Tipping My Fedora

Enjoying mystery, crime and suspense in all media

Silver Screenings

Ruth's Old Movie Reviews

monsterminions

They Don't Make 'Em Like They Used To

Comet Over Hollywood

Home for classic movie lovers

filmgeek101

classic movie views for the classic and not-so-classic movie fan

Riding the High Country

Reviews and ramblings

Speakeasy

movies galore

"DESTROY ALL FANBOYS!"

Smashing System Bias Since 1972...

Movies ala Mark

With a Cast of Thousands

Classic Horrors

From silent screen to Halloween, and everything scary in between.

Just Hit Play

The Good, the Bad and sometimes Ugly in film

Strother Martin Film Project

What we've got here is failure to communicate

Sophia Riley Kobacker

it's all about the story, possums...

Wolfmans Cult Film

Cult, B-Movies, cheesy fun films to Film Noir to classics new to me.

Talking Pulp

All things pulp and then some

cinema cities

a personal odyssey through film

Mark David Welsh

Watching the strangest movies - so you don't have to...

Scenes from the Morgue

The Lost Art of Pulp Ads: Film, Booze, Smokes & More!

Film Speech

All things film and television

Diary of A Movie Maniac

A Personal Journey Through Cinema & Television

portraitsbyjenni

My perspective on life & Classic Movie Recommendations

Statis Pro 1978 Replay

Methodically replaying every game of the 1978 baseball season!

4 Star Films

Looking Deeper at The Best Classic Movies of All Time

everythingnoir

Movies, Television, Books....Everything Noir

Chaplin-Keaton-Lloyd film locations (and more)

by John Bengtson "the great detective of silent film locations" New York Times

Sister Celluloid

Where old movies go to live

Silent-ology

Uncovering the silent era

The Canadian Cinephile

“Film lovers are sick people.” ― François Truffaut

Noirish

The annex to John Grant's *A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Film Noir*

Cinema Monolith

Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.

Sunset Boulevard

Writings of a Cinephile

The Bogie Film Blog

A Film by Film Affair with Humphrey Bogart

Vienna's Classic Hollywood

Vintage Hollywood films and stars

The Film Authority

You're ten seconds from watching an amazing film...

Once upon a screen...

...a classic film and TV blog

shadowsandsatin

. . where the worlds of film noir and pre-code collide . .

Alfred Hitchcock Master

Where Suspense Lives!

Tipping My Fedora

Enjoying mystery, crime and suspense in all media

Silver Screenings

Ruth's Old Movie Reviews

monsterminions

They Don't Make 'Em Like They Used To

Comet Over Hollywood

Home for classic movie lovers

filmgeek101

classic movie views for the classic and not-so-classic movie fan

Riding the High Country

Reviews and ramblings

Speakeasy

movies galore

%d bloggers like this: