Dec. 15, 2010
The Lost One:
A Life of
In The Lost One,
I separated the person of Peter Lorre from his screen persona. Continuing
that theme for this website, I suggested including photos (most of which
belonged to Lorre himself) that pictured a happy, healthy man at odds with
his sinister image as a movie menace.
There are many images here that would have made the biography but for
space limitations and/or poor resolution. Nonetheless, these shots (and
more to come) show rather than tell his many-sided story behind the
Except where noted, all photos are from the collection
of Stephen Youngkin.
For a larger image, click on the thumbnail.
A new window will open.
Andrew “Bundy” Lorre looked a great deal
like his famous brother. Often told that he also talked just like Peter
Lorre, he would reply, “Yes, but he is getting paid for it.”
Peter Lorre and brother Francis Lorant, who later
emigrated to Australia, lunching in Berlin, 1932. Lorre’s head
is shaved for his role as a humpbacked drug dealer in Der weisse
Dämon (The White Demon).
Celia Lovsky, circa 1925. Lovsky was already well
established on the Vienna and Berlin stages when Lorre met her in
1929. He was mesmerized by her beauty, she by his talent.
Celia Lovsky, circa 1927. Peter Lorre told friends
he didn’t know how he attracted such beautiful women. Some
female admirers found his menacing and mysterious screen image
appealing. His wives, however, shared something else in common
– an unqualified belief in his talent.
On a winter holiday in the Black Forest of southwestern
Germany, December, 1929. Peter proposed to Celia at Christmas that
Peter and Celia motor-boating on der Wannsee, a
popular area for swimming and boating in the southwestern Berlin
borough of Steglitz-Zehlendorf. Taken in 1932.
After Peter and Celia divorced, she was seldom
without one or more cats. When I knew her, she had four felines, all
tabbies and all very spoiled. Here she is at a petting zoo with a
tiger cub in her lap. Berlin, circa 1932.
Peter Lorre and Paul Falkenberg in a Paris editing
room, 1933. Falkenberg, who edited M (1931), became a good
friend of Lorre’s, even lending him money to take a cure for
his drug addiction.
Peter Lorre, as the angelically simple “Moritz
Steifel” in Frank Wedekind’s Frühlings
Erwachen (Spring’s Awakening), resists the sexual
overtures of the nymphomanical Ilse (Lotte Lenja), Volksbühne,
Theater am Bülowplatz, Berlin, October 1929. Taken by photographer
Kurt Gerron plays the shady profiteer
“Camillioni” to Peter Lorre as the corrupt Vienna press
czar “Barkassy” in Karl Kraus’ Die
Unüberwindlichen (The Unconquerable, October
1929). At the Volksbühne, Theater am Bülowplatz, Berlin.
Otto Wallburg and Peter Lorre (as “Bach”,
editor of The People’s Voice) in Carl Sternheim’s
comedy Der Kandidat (The Candidate), Deutsches
Kammerspiele, Berlin, January 1930. Said theater critic Fritz Engel
in the Berliner Tageblatt: “He has a personal
enchantment, not one of beauty; one is strongly moved and cannot pull
himself away from Lorre.”
Heinz Rühmann and Hilde Körbe opposite
Peter Lorre, as “Wasja”, a fanatical member of the League
of Communist Youth, in Valentine Katayev’s Die Quadratur
des Kreises (Squaring the Circle). The satire, set against
Russia’s housing shortage, premiered at the Theater am
Schiffbauerdamm, Berlin, in December 1930.
Whether distancing himself from a character or
absorbing himself in a role, Lorre labeled himself a
“face-maker.” As Vincent Price said, “It was his
definition of acting.” Lorre first played the funnyman
(“Pipi the Clown”) in Der Dompteur (The Lion
Tamer) on the stage of Berlin’s Theater am Schiffbauerdamm
in March 1931, with Carola Neher and Fritz Kampers.
Director Tay Garnett felt that Lorre called himself
a “face-maker” because he wanted no one to know how
seriously he took his art. Once again, as “the Pawnbroker”
in Georg Kaiser’s Nebeneinander (Side by Side,
September 1931), his facial expressions gave, according to one
reviewer, “good insight into one driven by demons.” With
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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