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December 31, 2006

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ResidentClinton

Bravo! I love love love Mr. Lorre, and indeed this has been a banner year. In 2004, The Harvard Film Archive in Cambridge did a centenial career retrospective that was just fantastic - and gave me my first chance to see the Mr. Moto films. It's so nice that these gems are finally on DVD. And I have to check out the biography as well - it's been on my wish list all year.

A few years ago I kicked off a Halloween marathon at my theatre with Mad Love, perhaps my favorite Lorre star vehicle. He plays a crazed surgeon who is obsessed with a Grand Guignol actress and plots to steal her from her pianist husband - by replacing his mangled hands with that of a convicted murderer! It's a great atmospheric pshychological horror film by Karl Freund that was remade more than once. It was a big hit at the show (most of the audience had never even heard of the film) and finally came out on DVD this year as well, as part of this affordable and classy Legends of Horror collection. If you haven't seen it, check it out. In the meantime I am going to search long and hard to see You'll Find Out, which just sounds amazing. Damn me all to hell for not having cable TV!

johnny

I got this wacky flick from 1940s starring Mickey Rooney as a small time hood getting shafted by Mr Peter Lorre who plays a creepy (what else?) amusement arcade operator. I'm traveling now, and can't check out the title. The Mr Moto movies are eminently watchable. I used to watch them on WNEW Channel 5 when I was a kid (that's "FOXFIVENEWYORK" to you young 'uns). It seems that on Dec 7, 1941, Mr Moto miraculously went from being a "Jap" to Filipino, much like the Green Hornet's sidekick, Kato.

Call Screener Jeff

The Beast with Five Fingers scared the $#!t out of me when I was 6 or 7 and inspired some horrible nightmares!!!

jtm

Very good article Kliph, thanks. Fantastic photo of PL also.

Max Sparber

Hey! I have that Slapsy Maxie Rosenbloom album!

Waitaminute .. that's my copy of the album in the picture!

Well, good. I freakin' love Peter Lorre.

LIsten Kliph Nesteroff

The Mickey Rooney/Peter Lorre film in question is Quicksand. It's in the public domain so it's readily available in most dollar store bargain bins, and probably one of the single best films you can find in the public domain. The plot is quite ingenius, actually. Well worth seeking out. The other most common Peter Lorre flick in the public domain is the Bob Hope comedy My Favorite Brunette, and Lorre is hilarious in it, again easy to find, always cheap, and well worth seeing. Max Sparber, thanks for letting me steal the image.

96dbFreak

Who should play Mr Lorre in the biopic? Steve Buscemi, that's who.

Michael Powers

I've always been intrigued and a little frightened by the fact that Lorre got sick and somehow gained a hundred pounds in more or less a fell swoop, if my information (via, I think, an ancient issue of Famous Monsters of Filmland) is correct. I'm not sure exactly when that was, but it certainly trumps Cary Grant getting the mole removed from his cheek in 1950 as a very visible bifurcation of a career.

Lorre is simply impossible to beat as a compelling actor and no one ever stole a scene from him to my knowledge, including Bogart in "The Maltese Falcon" or Cary Grant in "Arsenic and Old Lace." I've heard that he blows both Karloff and Lugosi(!) off the screen in "You'll Find Out" although I've never seen it myself. I'd love to see him work directly with Rooney, a similarly intense screen presence, to see which one the audience looks at. That might be difficult to predict.

I had no idea that Lorre, like Lugosi, was addicted to morphine. I think the earlier post is correct that Buscemi would be the choice to play him right now if someone shot a biographical film, although this is a case where the actor would have to get the voice and nuances exactly right, I think. With today's technology, they could put him in a fat suit for the post-weight gain sequences and splice in actual colorized footage of Grant, Bogart, Lugosi, etc. when it fits the script to add verisimilitude and surprise the audience.

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