The Lost One: A Life of Peter Lorreby Stephen D. Youngkin
Often typecast as a menacing figure, Peter Lorre achieved Hollywood fame first as a featured player and later as a character actor, trademarking his screen performances with a delicately strung balance between good and evil. His portrayal of the child murderer in Fritz Lang's masterpiece M (1931) catapulted him to international fame. Lang said of Lorre: "He gave one of the best performances in film history and certainly the best in his life." Today, the Hungarian-born actor is also recognized for his riveting performances in The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934), The Maltese Falcon (1941), and Casablanca (1942). Lorre arrived in America in 1934 expecting to shed his screen image as a villain. He even tried to lose his signature accent, but Hollywood repeatedly cast him as an outsider who hinted at things better left unknown. Seeking greater control over his career, Lorre established his own production company. His unofficial "graylisting" by the House Committee on Un-American Activities, however, left him with little work. He returned to Germany, where he co-authored, directed, and starred in the film Der Verlorene (The Lost One) in 1951. German audiences rejected Lorre's dark vision of their recent past, and the actor returned to America, wearily accepting roles that parodied his sinister movie personality.The first biography of this major actor, The Lost One: A Life of Peter Lorre draws upon more than three hundred interviews, including conversations with directors Fritz Lang, Alfred Hitchcock, Billy Wilder, John Huston, Frank Capra, and Rouben Mamoulian, who speak candidly about Lorre, both the man and the actor. Author Stephen D. Youngkin examines for the first time Lorre's pivotal relationship with German dramatist Bertolt Brecht, his experience as an émigré from Hitler's Germany, his battle with drug addiction, and his struggle with the choice between celebrity and intellectual respectability.Separating the enigmatic person from the persona long associated with one of classic Hollywood's most recognizable faces, The Lost One is the definitive account of a life triumphant and yet tragically riddled with many failed possibilities.
"Finalist for the 2005 Theater Library Association Award."
"Youngkin gets behind the image to incise a definitive portrait, and Lorre becomes a likeness we can like in-depth." Choice
"Youngkin's massively researched opus, drawing on over 300 interviews he conducted, lives up to the task of conveying Lorre's personal tragedy.... Readably written, spiced up with occasionally very amusing anecdotes, acerbic asides and insightful conclusions." Cineaste
"The colossal assemblage of research has been whipped into a compelling biographical narrative." Filmmonthly
"Youngkin makes a strong case for Lorre as one of cinema's most underrated actors, exploring in detail his early stage work in Europe, his largely forgotten performances in radio and television, and of course his role as the child murderer in Fritz Lang's classic crime film M, which would forever define Lorre as a celluloid bogeyman." Florida Newspaper
"Youngkin peels back the layers of Lorre's life to reveal a fascinating, nuanced individual who struggled with intellectual issues in the midst of glamour and fame." Library Journal (starred review)
"As the very first biography of Lorre, The Lost One does not disappoint.... A welcome revelation indeed." MovieMaker
"Youngkin's life of Lorre is a monumental piece of research and sheds new light on a career that has too long been ignored and undervalued." San Diego Union-Tribune
"You couldn't ask for a better book about Lorre. It will become the single most important book about Lorre's life and career, without question." Washington Post Book World
"[The book] is one of the finest biographies of an actor ever written, on a par with Patricia Bosworth's Montgomery Clift and Charles Winecoff's Split Image: The Life of Andy Perkins." Herbert Shadrack, www.cinemaretro.com
- University Press of Kentucky
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- 1.44(w) x 6.14(h) x 9.21(d)
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author of Fritz Lang: The Nature of the Beast and Alfred Hitchcock: A Life in Darkness and Light
Meet the Author
Stephen D. Youngkin is coauthor of The Films of Peter Lorre and Peter Lorre: Portrait des Schauspielers auf der Flucht. He appeared as an expert biographer on the German television documentary Das Doppelte Gesicht (The Double Face) and A&E's Biography tribute to Peter Lorre.
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