The great Peter Lorre starred as the mysterious Japanese sleuth Kanaro Moto eight times during the late 1930s, and most mystery buffs consider this one the best. This time around, our diminutive hero is in Egypt where he discovers a dastardly plot to ignite an international crisis by creating a disaster in the Suez Canal and blaming it on the British. But not if Mr. Moto has anything to say about it! A terrific supporting cast (including George Sanders and John Carradine) and a typically sly performance by Peter Lorre make MR. MOTO'S LAST WARNING loads of B-movie fun.
May 1 THE KENNEL MURDER CASE (1933, 73 min.)
Suave sleuth Philo Vance has been played by many actors over the years, but no one has captured the character's upper-crust sophistication better than William Powell, who played the detective four times before transitioning to the better-known Nick Charles / THIN MAN series at M-G-M. An apparent suicide brings Vance to a posh Long Island dog show, but it isn't long before our hero realizes that it was murder, not suicide, and that the culprit is still at large amidst the dog show's high-society patrons. Stylish direction by Academy Award-winning director Michael Curtiz (who went on to helm CASABLANCA and YANKEE DOODLE DANDY, among others) and a sterling cast (including Mary “Maltese Falcon” Astor and Eugene “Adventures of Robin Hood” Pallette) ensure that THE KENNEL MURDER CASE has a gloss, wit and sophistication all its own.
May 8 SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE Secret Weapon (1942, 68 min.)
Let's face it: having seen him, no one can imagine anyone but Basil Rathbone playing Sherlock Holmes, and SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE SECRET WEAPON (made just as America was entering WW2) is one of his most entertaining adventures. Our Baker Street hero and his earnest sidekick Dr. Watson (Nigel Bruce) have been retained by Scotland Yard (under the bumbling supervision of Inspector Lestrade (Dennis Hoey, making his debut in the role) to protect a young Swiss inventor (William Post) who has invented a gizmo that can shorten the war. Needless to say, there are numerous nefarious characters who would love to get their own mitts on the invention, including Holmes' perennial nemesis Professor Moriarity (played with sinister gusto by Lionel Atwill) who will stop at NOTHING in his evil plans for world domination. Partly inspired by Doyle's short story “The Dancing Men,” SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE SECRET WEAPON is a rollicking blend of mystery, adventure and flag-waving propaganda.