Friday, February 27, 2015

Cool, Calm and Affected

He seems mellow and slightly mysterious
But the fellow can fight something serious
Best look out, for, if crossed,
All about you'll be tossed
To your health that's a mite deleterious.

Peter Lorre is that mild-mannered Jiu-Jitsu and Judo expert, Mysterious Mr. Moto (Norman Foster; 1938).

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Snow Daze

About time that my ass should get going
Off the dime to where blasts aren't blowing
I'd include Honolulu
Or pursued by the Zulu
Any clime where, at last, it's not snowing.

Yes, I know the East Coast has had it much worse than here in Chicago. But that won't stop me from bitching about it. Image: February 1, 2015 in Chicago; ABC News

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

A Ghost of a Chan

With Oland the Swede on vacation,
The story would need alteration.
Nix China and Chan,
Align with Japan,
And deed it a new sleuthing Asian.

Donald B. Benson and Surly Hack

Harold Huber, Peter Lorre and Keye Luke in Mr. Moto's Gamble (1938). The script was originally written as a Charlie Chan film called Charlie Chan at Ringside, but Swedish born Warner Oland, who had played Chan in previous films, left the set due to illness, and it was retooled for Peter Lorre's Mr. Moto. The part of Lee Chan, Charlie's "number one son" was kept, and was played by the actor who defined the role, Key Luke.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

You're Darn Teuton


Moto's gone incognito, watch out!
Like a blonde Hirohito, but stout
Lorre's range is quite narrow
(For he's strange to the marrow)
So he dons this deceit and plays kraut.

David Cairns

Peter Lorre as Mr. Moto disguised as a German, in Mysterious Mr. Moto (Norman Foster; 1938).

Monday, February 23, 2015

Dental Detective

He is Nippon's diminutive sleuth
With a chip in each squint little tooth
But his snaggly smile
Masks magnificent guile
Moto's hip to each sinister truth.

David Cairns

Peter Lorre as the title Japanese detective in Mr. Moto Takes a Chance (1938).

Friday, February 20, 2015

Mr. Moto's Gambol

The moguls could not be forlorner
Sans Oland, they're left in a corner.
They rewrote the story
And gave it to Lorre --
The first part he got from a Warner.

Donald B. Benson

Image: Max 'Slapsie Maxie' Rosenbloom, Peter Lorre, and Key Luke in Mr. Moto's Gamble (James Tinling; 1938). More than you need to know, from Wikipedia: "It was originally written as a Charlie Chan film called Charlie Chan at Ringside, but Warner Oland, who had played Chan in previous films, left the set due to illness. (That was the end of Oland's film career, and he died months later.)

Fox had already spent $100,000 on the film. The script was rewritten as a Mr. Moto movie, featuring Keye Luke, in his one appearance in the Mr. Moto series, as Lee Chan, son of Charlie Chan. Lee Chan is Mr. Moto's student in his criminology class at San Francisco University. Mr. Moto mentions that he has heard from Charlie Chan in Honolulu. Mr. Moto says he and the head of the homicide squad are mere amateurs compared to Charlie Chan."

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Pan Behind the Mask

This daring outsmarter of spies
Is wearing an artful disguise
When the case has been closed
And his face is exposed,
We'll be staring in startled surprise.

Well, not quite. Mr. Moto may have been a master of disguise, but Peter Lorre had a hard time disguising his distinctive voice. Image: Lorre in Mysterious Mr. Moto (Norman Foster; 1938).

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Celibated Detective

By Donald B. Benson

Though Moto was cultured and mellow,
The girl would choose some other fellow.
So Moto by habit
Stayed chaste as an abbot
Or that punchinello, Costello.

With beauty in danger he'd meet up.
But ere Mr. Moto could heat up,
She's lovingly staring
At handsome red herring --
And THAT'S why the villains got beat up.

We really should take time to ruminate.
Was Moto, in fact, really celibate?
With Miss Lotus Long
There's chemistry strong.
Perhaps after fadeout they'd celebrate.

Peter Lorre and Lotus Long in Mysterious Mr. Moto (Norman Foster; 1938).

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

No Thank You, Mr. Moto

As the head of the class in detection,
Moto's bed should be passing inspection
But each hottie pursued
Tells him "Not in the mood"
And instead of a lass there's dejection.

Image: Peter Lorre in Thank You, Mr. Moto (Norman Foster; 1937).

Monday, February 16, 2015

A Lass and a Lack

Again Moto ends up alone 
No Jennifer, Brenda, or Joan  
No adoring young sweet
With amor to entreat,
No "benefits" friend of his own.

Love hangs up on Peter Lorre: Mr. Moto's Last Warning (1939).

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Saturday, February 14, 2015

The day Bogie gave Lorre a Noogie

Our look back in limericks at Peter Lorre will resume on Monday.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Fishy Friday

Today's date is a bit about luck
And if fate has a say, it will suck
Your new boss down at work
Will be cross and a jerk
When you're late 'cause you're hit by a truck.

Black Friday (Arthur Lubin; 1940) stars Boris Karloff, and Bela Lugosi, though that has absolutely nothing to do with this limerick.

Keep Your Code Buttoned

Production Code strictures did say,
Race mixing you could not display.
And so, as an Asian
Portrayed by Caucasian
Poor Moto was screwed (in a way).

Donald B. Benson

Jayne Regan and Peter Lorre in Thank You, Mr. Moto (1937).

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Fifty Shades of Nay

This detective might get all the glory,
But rejection's the rest of the story
No quivering girl
Will give him a whirl,
So no sex scenes for crestfallen Lorre.

Amanda Duff and Peter Lorre in Mr Moto in Danger Island (Herbert I. Leeds; 1939). Title by naysayer Donald. B. Benson.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Chop! Fooey!

A black belt, sleuth Moto looked natty
As he practiced verboten karate
But he stayed out of trouble
With the aid of a double
Then he'd snack and he'd bloat and turn fatty.

David Cairns

Peter Lorre starred as judo expert and international law enforcement agent Mr. Moto in eight motion pictures made between 1937 and 1939. All of Moto's fight scenes were staged and performed by stuntman and double Harvey Parry.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

A Date With Judo

Don't attack this detective or, lo,
On your back, to the deck you will go
Though he's short and he's stocky
Moto's sport is Chop-Socky
Once in traction, I reckon you'll know.

Peter Lorre is Mysterious Mr. Moto (Norman Foster; 1938). Title by hot date Donald B. Benson.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Vocal Color

For Peter, the cinema oracle
declared his achievements historical.
But attributes strange
Restricted his range:
His voice was not lyric, but Lorrical.

Donald B. Benson

Peter Lorre as Doctor Gogol in Mad Love (Karl Freund; 1935).

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Lizabeth Scott, R.I.P.

Yes, sultry she was, über alles
This femme fatale groomed by Hal Wallis
But stardom eluded
'Cause no charm exuded
When not playing tramps who were lawless.

Martin Pasko

Lizabeth Scott (September 29, 1922 – January 31, 2015); Image: Scott gets a light from Humphrey Bogart in Dead Reckoning (1947). Groomed by producer Hal Wallis, Scott starred in films noir as The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946), Desert Fury (1947), I Walk Alone (1948), Pitfall (1948), Too Late for Tears (1948), and Dark City (1950). You'll find our previous limericks on the actress and her films here.

Friday, February 6, 2015

No Mo' Moto

Our Peter craved more variation
(and upgraded remuneration).
He left the Fox lot
For Warners and got
A welcome dis-orientation.

Donald B. Benson

Peter Lorre plays the title Japanese sleuth in Mr. Moto Takes a Vacation (Norman Foster; 1939), one of eight Moto films he starred in at Twentieth Century-Fox. When Lorre left the studio for Warner Brothers, that was the end of the Moto series.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Moto's Arrest Cure

Mr. Moto should take a vacation
Try a break from his chosen vocation
But mystery plots
Need twists, and need lots
And so Moto knows no relaxation.

Peter Lorre tries to unwind in Mr. Moto Takes a Vacation (Norman Foster; 1939). Title by restless Donald B. Benson.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Mr. Moto's Last War Fling

Moto, the spy from Japan
Protects Allied ships from a plan?
While good Carradine
Dies like a sardine,
Done in by a Saint of a man?

Donald B. Benson


Peter Lorre, Ricardo Cortez and John Carradine engage in espionage in Mr. Moto's Last Warning (Norman Foster; 1939). The film also features George Sanders, who was just starting his own film series as The Saint.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Kung Foolery

Though a master of many disguises
His casting again brings surprises
Martial arts expertise
Has this smart Japanese
Though, alas, that's not Pete, one surmises.

 David Cairns with Surly Hack

 Peter Lorre was Mr. Moto, but stuntman and double Harvey Parry performed the judo. Image: Mysterious Mr. Moto (Norman Foster; 1938).

Monday, February 2, 2015

Asian Equation

To your horror show villains, a coda 
From the orient, silk and pagoda
You nailed Mr. Moto
Who hailed from Kyoto
Oh, Lorre, you'd kill it as Yoda.

Peter Lorre in Mr. Moto's Last Warning (Norman Foster; 1939).