|Mr. Moto's Gamble|
|Directed by||James Tinling|
|Produced by||John Stone|
Sol M. Wurtzel (uncred)
|Written by||Charles Belden|
|Based on||characters created by John P. Marquand|
|Edited by||Nick DeMaggio|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
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 Mr. Moto, a detective and Lee Chan (Keye Luke), a student, 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. Moto proves that it was murder and it is revealed that $100,000 was won in bets around the country against Stanton. 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. 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, to kill Moto.
In June 1937 Fox said the first three movies in the Mr Moto series would be Think Fast, Mr Moto, Thank You Mr Moto and 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.
Fox were going do make a Charlie Chan film called Charlie Chan at Ringside starring Warner Oland as Chan and Keye Luke as Number One Son. Jayne Reagan was cast on the strength of her performance in Thank You, Mr Moto. The cast would also include Lyn Bari and be directed by Norman Tinling.
Filming started in January 1938. Oland left the film due to illness that month and the production was suspended. (In March 1938, Fox announced Oland would return to the role and appear in Charlie Chan on the Clipper Ship. However he never recovered from his illness and was unable to resume working. He died in August 1938. Sidney Toler took over the role of Charlie Chan.)
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 and reluctant to cast a different actor as Charlie Chan, Sol Wurtzel, head of Fox's B movie unit, had the script rewritten as a Mr. Moto movie.  Filming started again 22 January.
Two Charlie Chan regulars appeared in the film - Keye Luke, who plays Charlie Chan's son Lee, and Harold Huber, who plays Lt Riggs. Lee Chan is Moto's student in his criminology class at San Francisco University. Moto mentions that he has heard from Charlie Chan in Honolulu. Moto says he and the head of the homicide squad are mere amateurs compared to Charlie Chan.
The film was released relatively quickly in April 1938.
The next film shot in the series would be Mysterious Mr. Moto.
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.
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