The Peter Lorre Obsession

PeterLorre_Angie-260x300In April, 2013 I pissed off my best friend Cher with a blog post about the top ten best actors in black and white.  I put Peter Lorre at number 10 and this was unacceptable to her.

“How can you live with yourself putting James Cagney before Peter Lorre?” she said.  I had put him at the bottom of the top 10 list and this was completely unacceptable to her.

To make up for it, she told me that I needed to re-watch all the films I own with him in it (the film collector that I am, I of course have many), and reconsider the awful position I put him in on the list.

I had grown up with all things Peter Lorre.  He was my pop’s favorite actor.  And I had spent a large chunk of my young life obsessing more over where the heck he came from than his acting abilities. “Is he Asian or something?  WTF is he?”  I’d ask my pop, much to his annoyance.  Imagine how that escalated when I saw the Mr. Moto films…*sigh*

As the years went by, I kind of put Lorre on the back burner (and finally figured out that he was Hungarian, not Asian) until Cher’s disgust with my top 10 list.

Now people refer to me as The Widow Lorre and admit that I am probably the most obsessive compulsive Lorre fan of all time.  People have said they do not think of Peter Lorre without thinking of me…and if it was up to me, I would have them think of nothing else. (Should I take that as a compliment? lol)

And I have gathered a lot of “Lorre enablers”.  People who send me Lorre stuff from all over the place, feeding my attachment to him.

While i am not going to do an updated top 10 list, I don’t think there is any denying where my favoritism lies.  All my friends and family know it…too well. And one of my friends, Steve Bailey constantly does things with photo manipulation and video to help my obsession along.  The following video is an example. ;)

6 thoughts on “The Peter Lorre Obsession

  1. Ian Stuart

    Great montage from the brill Mr. Bailey! I’m going to find that still of Lorre with all the accusatory fingers pointing at him now, it’ll make a good screensaver. Can you tell me if you have a collection of cigarette cards featuring Peter, Angie? For future reference ;-)

  2. Ian Stuart

    OK I’ll remember that! Just watched “M” again last night, I discovered a nice channel called “Showcase 2″ that shows proper films. So far I’ve recorded L&H’s “Flying Deuces”, “M”, “Metropolis”, “Nosferatu”, “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari”, “The Terror” with Boris Karloff and “The Terror of Tiny Town”, clips of which feature heavily in the Dead Kennedys’ vid of the “Rawhide” theme. Bad prints and dodgy subtitles (they refer to Beckert as “Becker” every time – not sure if Ted Danson could pull off Lorre’s performance, eh?) – but at least I can show the kids some more of what I think they should be introduced to, so I love it!
    BTW I wrote an article on the cloche hat but I think it’s too long, can I send it to you as a Word doc for you to edit? I can’t get on FB from home so please send me an email at the above address…

    1. Angie Schaffer Post author

      Oh I DO love bad prints sometimes. They’re like scratchy jazz records. The late, great film critic Roger Ebert referred to him as Hans Becker, which I must say irritated me a great deal. But what can you do? *sigh*

  3. Ian Stuart

    Too many people have that annoying habit of seemingly not being able to hear foreign names properly – his name is very clearly spoken to my ears but then my Dad did work for a well-known German airline for decades so the majority of posters on my childhood bedroom wall were in German! Still can’t speak it though so it must be a British thing. Didn’t Winston Churchill once say “An Englishman reserves the right to pronounce foreign names exactly as he wishes”? It’s particularly irritating when they do it on the news – don’t get me started on the BBC’s insistence that the country of Niger is called “Nee-share”. It’s not Neeshare, it’s Niger. I firmly believe that if I’d been born anywhere else in Europe I’d be a polyglot by now. At least I hope that’s the word for a speaker of many languages and not a derogatory term for someone who eats too much strudel.
    I agree with you on the bad prints sometimes being like scratchy old 78s, when I was a teenager and everyone else was wasting their time on Super Mario Cart and Pamela Anderson, most of my time was spent getting terribly bad copies of old silents and collecting Sidney Bechet 78s. And people thought I was the weird one! It’s a shame we never grew up in the same part of the world Angie, I coulda had a friend… (More pathos than Chaplin, eurgh!)
    Let’s hope that the various people around the world who preserve and restore those old prints continue doing so, though I didn’t mind the bad quality back in the day it’s the main reason why so many people are put off watching silents of any kind. And very early talkies give you the best of both worlds when they’re on TV – bad quality prints AND that 78rpm sound!

    1. Angie Schaffer Post author

      Oh don’t get me started. The American English pronunciation of German names drives me insane. Koenig is pronounced Kohnig or Kaynig here…and it’s actually freeking pronounced Kurnick!


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