Many the past girlfriend has been confused by my love for Old Time Radio. There is no question that OTR fans are predominantly male. I'm not sure why this is, but I imagine it's because women have taste. For me, a lot of OTR's appeal has to do with the sound quality, the movie serial-esque music and the plethora of unbilled but familiar sounding character actors. I always get a big thrill when I hear Arthur Q. Bryan as a vacuum salesman or June Foray as a cowhand or Paul Frees as anything. Part of the fun is that gratification one gets from identifying the mystery voice. Of course Peter Lorre was no mere character actor, but his voice is one of the most enjoyable to listen to as he sweats, screams or murders.
Peter Lorre starred in a painfully neglected radio series titled Mystery in the Air that was filled with nice sinister touches. I was filled with that aforementioned gratification when I first heard an episode and realized that the voice of the announcer on the show was that of Henry (soon to be Harry) Morgan from Dragnet, M*A*S*H and thousands of other shows. Lorre became the host of a repackaging of OTR re-runs in the late fifties, in which he would introduce episodes of The Whistler, Inner Sanctum or Mr. and Mrs. North that did not necessarily feature him in the cast. Some of these are also featured below.
Mystery in the Air
The episode The Black Cat is insane. Peter Lorre gets crazier and crazier throughout the episode until he breaks down completely - it is the epitomy of those wild Peter Lorre impressions you always see in cartoons but never actually seem to see Peter Lorre do himself. A must listen.
Here's an episode in which Peter Lorre plays a creepy hypnotist and magician who has an unhealthy competitiveness with another creepy hypnotist and magician.
Listen to eight simultaneous episodes via an automatic audio player here.
Probably the most famous of the intense radio dramas of the forties and fifties, Suspense, unlike its many copy cats, featured some of the biggest Hollywood giants in starring roles. It also featured an expensive live orchestra with music often composed or conducted by the legendary Bernard Herrmann. Here we have four episodes featuring Peter Lorre.
Til Death Do Us Part (1942)
The Devil's Saint (1943)
A Moment of Darkness (1943)
Nobody Loves Me (1945)
Inner Sanctum with Peter Lorre
The Martin & Lewis Show with guest Peter Lorre
Lorre on a 1939 edition of The Jack Benny Show
Peter Lorre appears in an episode of the popular but over rated comedy Duffy's Tavern
Mr. and Mrs. North with host Peter Lorre