The Lost One:
A Life of
In 1962, Peter Lorre signed with
American International Pictures to appear in a film based on two of
Edgar Allan Poe’s tales, “The Black Cat” and
“The Cask of Amontillado.” Unlike previous AIP Poe titles
(House of Usher, Pit and the Pendulum, etc.), this
three-part movie would be two-parts horror, one-part comedy. AIP
publicist Milton Moritz saw no reason to let the audience in on the
joke. “As far as the graphics were concerned,” he
recalled, “they had a very dark tone to them. The public was
accepting of the fact that maybe someone was trying to put something
over on them.”
For AIP, it was horror first, comedy second. For Lorre, however, it
was the other way around. Sam Arkoff, co-founder of AIP, remembered Lorre
as a quiet and wistful man who was sad at the thought good roles
weren’t coming his way. Anxious to play comedy, Lorre balanced the
appreciation of a Poe purist against the opportunity to inject humor into
“The Edgar Allan Poe films had a
tremendous following,” said Moritz. “They still play and play
and play.” He believed that the films won’t ever go out of
style because there was something fun about them. That they (and the
actors who appeared in them) never took themselves too seriously explains
their appeal: “Even with Vincent Price, he could jest about the
parts he played. He’d say, ‘I guarantee any three actors in
Hollywood would love to do what I’m doing. The fact is that
I’m having fun and I can ham it up and the people are with
So too were they with Peter Lorre.
Except where noted, all images are from the
collection of Stephen Youngkin.
For a larger view, click on
the thumbnail. A new window will open.
Tales of Terror — American
International Pictures, 1962, directed by Roger Corman, with Peter
Lorre as "Montressor Herringbone", a man who hated a cat – a
An American duo-tone one-sheet poster advertising
Tales of Terror (AIP, 1962).
A Mexican lobby card advertising Destinos
Fatales (1962), which translates as Fatal Destinies. The
color inset illustrates a scene from "The Black Cat" segment, the
second of the three stories, while the black-and-white inset is
from part three, "The Case of M. Valdemar".
The Raven — American International
Pictures, 1963, directed by Roger Corman, with Peter Lorre as "Dr.
Bedlo", a 16th-Century magician.
This original American half-sheet poster, with
the heads of Boris Karloff, Vincent Price, and Peter Lorre,
advertised horror over comedy in The Raven (1963).
An American one-sheet color poster for The
Raven (1963), with the three leading actors in prominent
A Mexican lobby card for the original release of
El Cuervo (The Raven, 1963). The ad-line reads "The
terror began at midnight!". Dr. Bedlo (Lorre) informs the
incredulous Dr. Craven (Price) that his deceased wife Lenore (Hazel
Court) is actually alive and well – at Dr. Scarabus' (Karloff)
An original Mexican lobby card advertising El
Cuervo or The Raven (1963). Dr. Bedlo (Peter Lorre)
narrowly escapes the bewitched coachman Grimes (William Baskin).
A Mexican lobby card for El Cuervo
(The Raven, 1963), featuring the three sorcerers: Boris
Karloff, Peter Lorre, and Vincent Price.
An American lobby card for The Raven
(1963), with Craven's coachman and manservant Grimes (William
Baskin) under the spell of Dr. Scarabus (Karloff) and in pursuit
of Dr. Bedlo (Peter Lorre).
A poster for the Belgium release of Le Corbeau
(AIP, 1963), or The Raven. The artwork emphasizes the film's
horror elements over its comedy.
The Comedy of Terrors — American
International Pictures, 1964, directed by Jacques Tourneur, with
Peter Lorre as "Felix Gillie", who – as assistant to a crooked
undertaker – believes "there must be a little more honest way
to conduct a funeral business."
An American lobby card advertising the original
release of The Comedy of Terrors, with Peter Lorre. A
"master craftsman" who hates to see anyone buried "naked" (i.e.,
dumped into a grave without a coffin), Felix Gillie (Lorre) uses
a piece of rope to measure wood for a new casket.
An original American lobby card for The Comedy
of Terrors (1964), with Peter Lorre and Vincent Price – and
a bottle of "medicine".
A Mexican lobby card for Comedia de Terror
(Comedy of Terror, 1964). In the inset, Waldo Trumbull,
"entrepreneur of death", intends to finish off his landlord, John F.
Black (Basil Rathbone).
This original one-sheet poster for the American
release of The Comedy of Terrors (1964) advertised the
re-teaming of Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, and Boris Karloff,
following the "old fiends'" appearance in AIP's The Raven
(1963) the previous year.
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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