Mr. Moto (Peter Lorre) is sent to Puerto Rico on a ship called the San Juan to investigate the murder of an American agent named Graham who had been trying to uncover a diamond smuggling ring. Along the way he picks up a fan in the form of a wrestler, Twister McGurk (Warren Hymer). Before the ship lands Moto is stricken with appendicitis. At the dock an ambulance picks up Moto and McGurk. The ambulance, however, was stolen by the smugglers who want to kill Moto. Moto, who was pretending to be ill, and McGurk wrestle with the smugglers. The smugglers manage to get away.

Moto used the trick to try to find out the leader of the smugglers. What he learns is that there is a leak in Governor John Bentley’s (Paul Harvey) office. Those that knew of Moto’s illness were Commissioner Gordon (Richard Lane), Colonel Thomas Castle (Charles D. Brown), Mr. Sutter (Jean Hersholt), a wealthy shipper who owns the ship Mr. Moto was on, Commissioner Madero (Leon Ames), Lt. George Bentley (Robert Lowery) and a citrus grower from the area named LaCosta (Douglass Dumbrille). One of them is the killer.

Mr. Moto finds out that before he died Graham had taken some books out from the local library that concerned an area of the island called the Salina Swamp and a pirate named Black Tarrant who is said to have used the swamp as a hiding place centuries ago. Moto does some research and believes that the smugglers are using the swamp to hide out in. Someone knows what Moto is up to and tries to kill him by setting a trap in his hotel room, but a hotel steward gets killed instead.

At a party being held at the governor’s mansion Colonel Castle’s daughter Joan (Amanda Duff) hears someone on the phone setting up another smuggling operation with the captain of the San Juan, Captain Dahlen (Eddie Marr). She tells her fiancé George Bentley. They race to see George’s uncle, Governor Bentley. When they enter his office Bentley is dead on the floor. Kneeling over him is Joan’s father Colonel Castle. Castle is accused of killing Governor Bentley and agent Graham. The next day Colonel Castle and Joan have disappeared. Commissioner Gordon thinks they’ve fled but Moto believes they have been kidnapped. Moto must find the Colonel and Joan while setting a trap for the leader of the smugglers.

“Mr. Moto in Danger Island” was released in 1939 and was directed by Herbert I. Leeds. It is an American crime mystery and is the seventh of eight Mr. Moto films that starred Peter Lorre. It is based on the 1933 novel “Murder in Trinidad” by John W. Vandercook. The novel was made into a movie in 1934 starring Nigel Bruce and Victor Jory. In 1945 it was again remade, as a film noir titled “The Caribbean Mystery”. The film was originally going to be a Charlie Chan movie called “Charlie Chan in Trinidad”, however, due to Warner Oland’s death the script was re-written for the Mr. Moto character.

The film is action packed and quick paced. It is an entertaining addition to the Mr. Moto cannon despite the red herrings and plot holes. One of them does stick out like a sore thumb. When the hotel steward runs the bath for Moto and gets electrocuted it is after McGurk said he took a shower. Since the wired tub was already set, McGurk should have been electrocuted when he ran his shower. It’s very problematic but it wasn’t enough to spoil the movie for me.

As comic relief Warren Hymer, as McGurk, is only a little irritating. Again, not enough to turn me off. His butchering of the English language made him slightly more endearing and slightly less annoying. As for suspects they are basically interchangeable. For a while I wasn’t sure who was who. They all looked very similar. If you want to know who the murderer is, it’s the white guy with the moustache in the white suit.

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