Monday, June 26, 2017

6/26/1904 Peter Lorre slithers into the world

June 26, 1904.  Think how much poorer our genre would be without Peter Lorre, who was born on this date in Austria-Hungary (now Slovakia).  His first big success was starring as a serial killer in the Fritz Lang masterpiece M.  When the Nazis took over Germany in 1933 he got the hell out (as did Lang).  His first English language flick was Alfred Hitchcock's The Man Who Knew Too Much (the first version).  He learned most of his lines for that one phonetically.

Among the American movies in which he played criminals are Crime and Punishment, Mad Love, The Maltese Falcon, and Casablanca.  The last two also featured Sidney Greenstreet, and those two went on to make seven more movies together.

He also starred in a series of movies about John P. Marquand's Japanese spy/detective Mr. Moto, a role he came to despise.  One of my favorite performances was as the hilarious plastic surgeon Dr. Einstein in Arsenic and Old Lace.

John Huston, who directed him in The Maltese Falcon, said  "He's always doing two things at the same time, thinking one thing and saying something else."  A great skill for an actor.

1 comment:

  1. Barbara Eden, who worked with him, said the best tribute to his career is that people who never saw his movies know who he is!