The Lost One: A Life of Peter Lorre

The Lost One: A Life of Peter Lorre

by Stephen D. Youngkin
The Lost One: A Life of Peter Lorre

The Lost One: A Life of Peter Lorre

by Stephen D. Youngkin


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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780813136066
Publisher: University Press of Kentucky
Publication date: 01/06/2012
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 680
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.60(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About 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.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Prologue: "Who are you, really?" 1

1 Facemaker 4

2 M Is for Morphine 52

3 Escape to Life 89

4 Softly, Softly, Catchee Monkey 142

5 Being Slapped and Liking It 176

6 Insider as Outsider 246

7 The Swamp 279

8 Smoke Gets in Your Eyes 311

9 Elephant Droppings 360

10 The Mask behind the Face 425

Epilogue: Mimesis 451

Appendix: Peter Lorre Credits and Broadcast Appearances 455

Notes 493

Bibliography 567

Index 581

What People are Saying About This

Thomas Schatz

"A truly remarkable achievement: a quintessential biography that manages to get inside not only the inimitable, ever-mysterious Lorre, but also a movie industry that couldn’t get enough of him – yet never quite figured out how to tap his peculiar genius. Riveting, heartbreaking, and endlessly illuminating, Youngkin's The Lost One reveals the life and times, the talent and torments of an authentic motion-picture original. He deftly traces Lorre's on-screen achievements, from M and Mr. Moto, to the noir masterworks during his glory days at Warners, to his sad, slow descent into addiction, chronic melancholy and second-rate roles. And dead center throughout is Lorre himself, who is somehow sustained by his acerbic wit, his oddly heroic sensibility, and his incessant commitment to his art."

Patrick McGilligan

"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."
author of Fritz Lang: The Nature of the Beast and Alfred Hitchcock: A Life in Darkness and Light

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