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

The Lost One:
A Life of
Peter Lorre



Chapter 3

Peter Lorre's
(A Sample)

Critics Are
Saying . . .

The Author

What's New!


Peter Lorre

Peter Lorre:
The Man,
The Actor


Photo Album

Poster Art



Radio Programs


After leaving Warner Bros. (which did not renew his option) in 1946, Lorre formed Lorre Inc. in the hope of wresting control of his career from the Hollywood moguls. When that plan failed, he drifted off to Europe, ostensibly to take his “House Act’ to English cinema audiences, but more importantly, to connect with his past.

In postwar Germany, he realized an old dream of producing, directing and starring in an independent film. Der Verlorene (which Lorre translated as The Lost One), weighed the enormity of mass crimes committed by the Nazi regime against the fate of a single human being, a murderer who becomes a victim of murderous times. Sensitive to the criticism that he was repeating himself, Lorre pointed out that any broad similarities between M and Der Verlorene were coincidental and incidental to his grand design of interfusing documentary sobriety and artistic symbolism.

However great his debt to his screen past, Der Verlorene was a deeply personal statement. Said Lorre: “If my film helps to lighten the conscience of only a single man, then it will not be made for nothing.” But as his altruism turned to animosity toward the prevailing political climate, his hope hardened into hopelessness. While Lorre felt that his film was misunderstood, producer Fred Pressburger (who took over production after his father, Arnold Pressburger, died suddenly) believed that German audiences understood it all too well and rejected what they read as a fatally pessimistic message.

Except where noted, all images are from the collection of Stephen Youngkin.
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Der Verlorene (The Lost One)   —   National Filmgesellschaft m.b.H., 1951, directed, co-written, and co-produced by Peter Lorre, with Lorre as “Dr. Karl Rothe”, a scientist, and murderer, in World War II Hamburg, Germany.

Pressbook poster for 'Der Verlorene'.

The original pressbook for Der Verlorene (The Lost One), published in 1951, shows a number of posters available for dispay in German movie theaters. Here, Peter Lorre peers through a brick wall on which are written the credits for his film.

Drawing of Peter Lorre for 'Der Verlorene'.

According to the German pressbook, exhibitors could obtain for their cinema entrance hall “a lifesize figure of the Lost One (Peter Lorre) made of plywood that will cast the shadow of the film title Der Verlorene on the floor.”

Pressbook poster for 'Der Verlorene'.

From the pressbook, another poster of Der Verlorene, with a portrait of Peter Lorre.

Pressbook image of Peter Lorre.

An example of the lifesize plywood figure of Peter Lorre, available to German cinema owners for their theater lobby.

According to Catharine Lorre, the commercial and critical failure of Der Verlorene nearly crushed her father. Other friends remembered that it left him feeling “hurt, bitter, depressed.” Co-workers on Der Verlorene believed that Peter Lorre stood on the brink of a great new career as a director, but he never again directed another movie.

In February of 1952, he returned to America and resumed his Hollywood career, as if his artistic hiatus had never happened. He rarely talked about his filmmaking experience in Germany. And it was not until 1983, nearly 20 years after Lorre’s death, that Der Verlorene was released in the United States.

In November 2007, Kinowelt Home Entertainment released Der Verlorene on DVD with a host of extras, including an interview with German film historian Christoph Fuchs.

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The Lost One: A Life of Peter Lorre (2005) by Stephen Youngkin – now in its third printing and winner of the Rondo Award for "Best Book of 2005" – is available in bookstores everywhere, as well as these on-line merchants.

The Films of Peter Lorre (1982), also by Youngkin, is out of print, but copies may be purchased through Amazon and Barnes & Noble below. Interested in Lorre's radio and television performances? Check out Radio Showcase and Movies Unlimited. Netflix has Lorre movies for rent.

U.S. Amazon – Soft-bound
Amazon U.S. – Hard-Cover

Amazon Canada – Hard-Cover
Amazon Canada – Soft-bound

Amazon U.K. – Soft-bound
Amazon U.K. – Hard-Cover

University Press of Kentucky
Barnes & Noble – Nook and Hard-bound