“But my dear girl, one can’t rush around London killing people. It just isn’t done!” Paul Brissac (Leon Ames) is a criminal in the Devil’s Island penal colony. He escapes with the aid of a Japanese man called Ito. Ito is in reality Kentaro Moto (Peter Lorre) from the International Police. With Moto’s help Brissac manages to get to England. Brissac has confidence that his prison buddy is faithful and makes Moto his servant.

Moto is on the trail of a group that calls themselves the League of Assassins. They have been responsible for murders all over Europe. The league is now working in England and Brissac is one of its members. In addition to Brissac there is Ernst Litmar (Harold Huber), George Higgins (Forrester Harvey) and Gottfried Brujo (Frederik Vogeding).

Moto learns that their next target is Industrialist Anton Darvak (Henry Wilcoxon). Darvak has been receiving threats. They are trying to extort the process for making a new kind of steel. Since Darvak refuses to give it to them they say they will kill him the following day at three o’clock. Darvak disregards the warnings, but his secretary Ann Richman (Mary Maguire) is taking the threats very seriously.

Moto enlists the help of Lotus Liu (Lotus Long) to keep an eye on some of the league’s minions and report back to him, but the league is getting suspicious of Lotus and Moto. Despite the danger Moto is determined to find out who the mastermind of the league is and stop them before they can fulfill their dire promise.

“Mysterious Mr. Moto” was released in 1938 and was directed by Norman Foster. It is a crime mystery and the fifth of eight films produced by 20th century Fox that were based on the character Mr. Moto. In all eight films the title character was played by Peter Lorre. The Mr. Moto character was created by John P. Marquand.

The movie starts out with a prison break through the swamps and, for the most part, remains fast paced. It does take a while before the Mr. Moto character gets to beat up anyone but there ends up being several fight scenes, especially toward the end. All in all, not a bad addition to the Mr. Moto canon.

Devil’s Island was a maximum-security penal colony in French Guiana. The prison ran from 1852 to 1953. It was located on a small group of islands off the coast of South America. The official name of the colony is “Bagne de Cayenne”. The name Devil’s Island was coined by the prisoners themselves. Reportedly, over 60,000 men were assigned to the prison but only 2,000 survived. The island was first used as a leper colony and then to house political prisoners. Eventually anyone could be sentenced to the island. The island was surrounded by sharks and piranha which were used to dispense of the bodies of dead prisoners.

Lotus Long was born Lotus Pearl Shibata. Her father was Japanese, and her mother was Hawaiian. Using the surname Long most people thought she was Chinese. This would help her to avoid the American Japanese internment camps during WWII. Long went by the name Karen Sorrell in a couple films, including this one.

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