Thursday, April 27, 2017


Saw this 'un a long time ago, but given my sieve-like memory it was like watching a new moom pitcher all over again. Peter Lorre was always at his zilch-film level best as Moto (too bad World War II hadda break out 'n end the series), and he's really tippy top in this particular pelicula as the famed international agent trying to stop saboteurs (led by one-time silent screen leading man Ricardo Cortez) from creating an international incident by placing mines near the Suez Canal in order to stir up some major-league animosity between England and France.

Cortez is particularly good as the dirty deed dealer who's also a vaudeville ventriloquist (though his off-stage rapport with his dummy is not as intense as that of Von Stroheim as Gabbo nor any of the two TWILIGHT ZONE episodes dealing with this by-now overworked device) while John Carradine as a good guy posing as a badski who eventually meets his end in a diving bell sure ain't the Carradine we all know from those Crown International films of the seventies let alone MYRA BRECKENRIDGE. Virginia Field as Cortez's gal pal torn between helping his dastardly deeds and spending a stretch in a British women's prison is fair enough but just doesn't exude that hotchaness I like in these olde tymey mooms, while Robert Coote as the novelist Rollo is particularly good comic relief, sorta reminding me of Harold Lloyd what with his round glasses and the way he gets himself in the thick of things with Moto just happening to be around to save his ass from rowdy sailors or the conspirators themselves.

Gotta love these old mooms for what they still mean to guys like me who never could goosestep to the new snoozality so evident in everything that has been metastasized by the newer than new kultural vanguard or whatever it's called these days. Might be worth a look-see on some low-wattage tee-vee station or maybe even the web, though frankly the only way to watch a flicker like this is on a hot sticky summer night on some slightly fuzzy UHF station sitting on a Naugahyde recliner in your undies (no AC). Talk about being "glued to your seat", though whether that's because of the film's gripping nature or the fact that the sweat exuded has pretty much cemented you to the chair remains to be seen.


Bill S. said...

When I got this film originally, I unintentionally happened to watch it and BUNCO SQUAD and one other film which had the great Ricardo Cortez as a sleazy villain....all within 3 or 4 days! As much as I liked him as a leading man (D.W. Griffith's THE SORROWS OF SATAN, for instance), he was a lot more FUN as a villain. Try to find a copy of the Monogram WWII-era "black market" crime film RUBBER RACKETEERS, with Cortez at his oily bad-guy best!

Joe Torcivia said...

Couldn’t agree more with your last paragraph! Makes me wanna dig this one out and watch it again! ...And I WILL, too! :-)