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Thank You, Mr. Moto

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Posted Jun 09, 2008 - 1:34 PM:

1. "Thank You, Mr. Moto," the 1937 film for which Cooper is credited with co-writing the screenplay (with director Norman Foster), came out on video in 2006 and will be shown on the American cable channel Turner Classic Movies late Tuesday night. This is considered one of the best of the Moto series.

I've been meaning to post something about it for a while but I'm afraid this is all I could come up with:


2. You can barely tell Cooper had a hand in the script, although some of the attention to detail, the treatment of the violence, and a pointedly respectful portrayal of Eastern religion seem consistent with his other work. (An unintentionally amusing moment -- for me, anyway -- comes near the beginning when a disguised Moto gives a hushed warning to his servant not to give away his identity: "Quiet, please!")

Just for fun, here's a rundown on all the violence:

On his way to Peking, Moto knifes a Mongolian in the desert. The next night, he knifes a Russian at a party. The next afternoon, he threatens to shoot a Spaniard (or maybe Portuguese) but somebody else shoots the guy first. (Earlier, a character remarked, "One meets every nationality in Peking -- even Chinese.") That night, for a change of pace, a German shoots Moto (seemingly). Up to that point, the average is about one murder, or faked murder, every ten minutes.

Then there's a lull of about fifteen minutes during which nobody actually gets killed -- but Moto gets knocked unconscious by a gun butt on the head (by a Frenchman, I think) and a Chinese mother and son are brutally tortured. To make up for this lull, the mother tries to kill the villain with a knife and is promptly shot to death, after which the son commits suicide by hari-kari. Both die in the space of less than five minutes.

Then after a car crash, Moto is seemingly shot dead again but returns from the bottom of a river minutes later to toss the Frenchman off a boat (which may or may not count as a murder). That leaves us with the final two killings: the German uber-villain accidentally shooting his own henchman and, after a violent brawl, Moto shooting the villain.

Well, there's only one way to top all that. Moto casually destroys the MacGuffin that has directly or indirectly led to all these deaths! And the American boy and girl live happily ever after. Nice work, Mr. Moto!

3. And, finally, here's some scintillating dialogue from the film:

ELEANOR: Who's that man?

TOM: His name's Moto. Adventurer, explorer, soldier of fortune. One of the Orient's mysteries. Nobody knows very much about him except that whenever he shows up, something usually happens.

ELEANOR: Sounds fascinating. I want to meet him.

TOM: Most people do.

TOM: Now tomorrow we'll go shopping, and then after dinner, we'll go to the Chenguang.

ELEANOR: What's that?

TOM: Movie theater.

ELEANOR: I came here to write a book, remember.

TOM: All right, but make it a trilogy, will ya? Something that'll take us years to finish.

MOTO: (AFTER KILLING THE RUSSIAN) He's quite dead, I assure you. Most regrettable.

CHUNG: You honor my poor house by your presence, Mr. Moto. I regret that I was unable to thank you last night for saving my unworthy life.

MOTO: I am extremely sorry that I was forced to employ such, er, severe measures. If I had entered the library a moment earlier, I might have disarmed him but, unfortunately for Colonel Tchernov, he was about to shoot you. Well - perhaps it was better that way.

MOTO: (INSPECTING PAINTED SCROLLS) Oh. What harmony of line and color. This is truly a voiceless poem.

PIERIERA: (DISHONEST ANTIQUE SELLER) Not only is this genuine Kuan Yin of Tang Dynasty but it is very authentic.

TOM: (WATCHING STREET ACROBATS) They get the crowd interested and then they won't do their best trick until they're paid off.

CHINESE GIRL: Money? No got enough money, no "catchee" show.

TOM: (AFTER ELEANOR GIVES HER A GOLD PIECE) You gave 'em enough for forty tricks. They'll probably break their necks.

TOM: You know, I bought my soapstone jade Buddha in a place like this. Oh, it's your friend Pieriera's shop.

ELEANOR: I think I'll go in and look at that scroll again.

TOM: Oh, that's no way to shop in this country. Let him come to you.

ELEANOR: You'd better always go shopping with me.

TOM: That's one of my honorable intentions.

MOTO: Were you able to find any bargains?

TOM: We're trying to decide which place to get gypped in.

MOTO: (PLAYING A STRINGED INSTRUMENT) There's nothing like the music of a samisen to make one recall cherry blossoms.

PIERIERA: Observe this excellent example early Chinese art. You like it? I make good price. Two thousand dollar gold.

MOTO: This isn't thirteenth century.

PIERIERA: Perhaps not. But it IS very ancient.

MOTO: Yes, as ancient as, er, a month or so. The silk, though cleverly aged, is new and the paint is of inferior modern grade.

MOTO: Who paid you to steal it, Mr. Pieriera?

PIERIERA: I cannot say. They will kill me. ...

MOTO: (TWENTY SECONDS LATER, AFTER PIERIERA HAS BEEN SHOT DEAD) Your premonition was correct, Mr. Pieriera.

TOM: Well, there's nothing like a murder to ruin a perfectly good evening.

MOTO: It would have spoiled Miss Joyce's visit if she had been subjected to much unnecessary questioning.

ELEANOR: I'm sure I could have answered satisfactorily.

MOTO: One can never predict what the police will consider satisfactory.

MOTO: Please don't be alarmed. I'm only attempting to break into the safe.

MOTO: I find your confidence in the police both flattering and disturbing.

MOTO: (TRYING TO TRACE A CALL) Would you please connect me with Mr. Feng of the telephone company? ... (ASIDE, TO ELEANOR) Very obliging gentleman, Mr. Feng, but submerged in an uninteresting occupation.

SCHNEIDER: (SKEPTICAL OF TORTURE) Chinese are stubborn swine. You could kill them before they'll talk.

MOTO: (QUOTES THE TAOIST PHILOSOPHER CHUANG-TZU TO A DYING MAN) My very good friend, remember the words "Birth is not a beginning. Death is not an end."

TOM: Well, there's nothing more we can do for him now.


MOTO: The Mongolian that you sent to kill me in the desert was sufficient warning that my scroll was in danger.

MOTO: My dear Madame Tchernov, I'm so grateful for your suspicious nature. It is not the first time a woman's jealousy has been fatal to the man she loved.
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