April 23, 2010

Stranger on the Third Floor On-Screen, Apr. 23, 2010

As part of their series “The Newspaper Picture”, the Film Forum in New York City will be showing Stranger on the Third Floor (1940) on a double-bill with While the City Sleeps (directed by Fritz Lang, 1956).

Newspaper reporter Michael Ward (John McGuire) finds his career on the rise when he covers the sensational story of a local café owner’s murder and the suspect’s (Elisha Cook Jr) arrest and trial. But when his odious third-floor neighbor is killed in the same way, Michael fears he could be arrested on circumstantial evidence – unless his loyal fiancée Jane (Margaret Tallichet) can track down a mysterious stranger (Peter Lorre) lurking around Michael’s boarding house . . . .

Show-times for Stranger on the Third Floor are 1 p.m., 4:40 p.m. and 8:25 p.m. The 8:25 p.m. screening will be introduced by a special guest – Catherine Wyler, daughter of actress Margaret Tallichet and director William Wyler.

The Film Forum is located at 209 West Houston Street, between 6th and 7th avenues, in New York City. For more information, please call the Box Office at (212) 727-8110. Directions, including parking and public transportation, can be found here at the Film Forum website.

Tickets may be purchased at the theater on the day of the showing only. The Film Forum’s pricing policy for a double feature – two films for the price of one – is in effect for this screening.

April 18, 2010

Lorre Films on TV This Spring

Lorre movies from several different studios are on the Turner Classic Movies schedule over the next three months.

Peter Lorre's page on the TV Now website lists the Lorre films scheduled on various television channels over a 2-week period.

All times are Eastern Standard.

April, 2010

Apr. 19 (Mon.), 6 p.m. – All Through the Night (1942). As Pepi, Peter appeared in his second film with pal Humphrey Bogart, and his first with Karen Verne, who in 1945 became the second Mrs. Lorre.

Apr. 30 (Fri.), 8 p.m. – Background to Danger (1943). Peter Lorre plays Russian spy Nikolai Zaleshoff, working with and against American agent Joe Barton (George Raft). Watch for the scene in the Zaleshoffs' apartment – during filming of this sequence, Raft took exception to Peter's smoking and scene-stealing and decked him. Peter's stuntman Harvey Parry, who also doubled him on the Mr. Moto films of the late 1930s, tells the story in Stephen Youngkin's book The Lost One: A Life of Peter Lorre.

May, 2010

A rarely-televised Lorre film is the lone entry on the schedule this month.

May 24 (Mon.), 8:15 a.m. – The Face Behind the Mask (1941). One of the few films in which Peter took the leading role. He plays Janos Szabo, a Hungarian watchmaker who immigrates to the U.S., but finds his new life utterly changed when he becomes horribly scarred in a fire.

June, 2010

This month is Peter Lorre's 106th birthday, and a couple Lorre films that don't usually get much play will be shown.

June 4 (Fri.) – Peter Lorre at sea in:

They Met in Bombay (1941) at 6 a.m. – "Oh, but this is no passenger ship, sir," Capt. Chang (Lorre) tells Clark Gable and Rosalind Russell, jewel thieves attempting to escape Bombay (now Mumbai) aboard the Chinese skipper's tramp steamer. "Of course, almost anything may be done for money." And for Capt. Chang, that includes double-crossing his passengers for the £50,000 reward on their heads.

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954) at 10 p.m. – A ship of another kind – a "submerging boat" – is the setting for Peter Lorre's only film at the Walt Disney studio. To publicize the film, Peter appeared with his 20,000 Leagues co-stars on two episodes of Disneyland, the Disney television program: "The Disneyland Story", Oct. 27, 1954, the series' premiere episode; and "Monsters of the Deep", Jan. 19, 1955, which highlighted the film's set-piece: a fight with a giant squid.

Many Lorre movies have been remastered and packaged in DVDs loaded with extra features. For more information on the films of Peter Lorre released to home video, head to the DVD — VHS section of The Lost One website.

Happy viewing!

April 17, 2010

Daemen College Screens M on Apr. 19, 2010

On Monday, Apr. 19, 2010, the classic German film M will be shown in the Wick Center – Charles J. Wick Campus Center – at Daemen College in Amherst, NY. Chris Wilson, Director of Computer Services on campus, will be the commentator.

The program begins at 7:30 p.m. Admission is free.

Daemen College is located at 4380 Main Street in Amherst, NY. Parking is available behind the Wick Center, as well as other locations on campus.

Peter Lorre was 26 when famed German director Fritz Lang cast him in the role of a serial child murderer who terrorizes Berlin and is finally brought to justice by the Underworld. It was a role that catapulted Lorre to fame, contracts with American movie studios, and a place in motion picture history.

But it wasn’t his first time before the movie cameras. It was his second.

Lorre’s first movie was a silent film called Die verschwundene Frau (The Missing Wife), released in 1929 through Österreichisches Filmindustrie and directed by Karl Leiter. Peter appeared in the small role of a patient visiting a dentist, and his participation in the film was a secret he took with him to the grave. He told no one – not his brothers, not Celia Lovsky, with whom he was living at the time, and not the many reporters who interviewed him over the years. It wasn’t until 1996, during the restoration of a nitrate print found in a Belgian archive that his first screen appearance was revealed.

Photos of Peter as the dental patient are included in Stephen D. Youngkin’s Lorre biography The Lost One: A Life of Peter Lorre. The Missing Wife is discussed in Chapter 1, “Facemaker”, while the production of M is chronicled in Chapter 2, “M is for Morphine”.

April 15, 2010

Arsenic and Old Lace On-Screen Apr. 17-18, 2010

In Arsenic and Old Lace, Peter Lorre’s character Dr. Einstein nips continuously from a bottle of Scotch he keeps in his jacket pocket. This weekend, Lorre fans in New Haven, CT, can enjoy mimosas before viewing Arsenic and Old Lace at the Criterion Cinema, one of the Bow Tie Cinema chain.

This Saturday and Sunday, Apr. 17 and 18, 2010, Arsenic and Old Lace will be shown at the Criterion Cinema as part of their classic film series “Movies and Mimosas”. Doors open at 10:30 a.m. The program begins at 11 a.m.

General admission is $5. For Criterion Club members, admission is $4 with the Club Loyalty card. Tickets may also be purchased on-line through the theater’s website.

The Criterion Cinema is located at 86 Temple Street, at the corner of Temple and George streets, New Haven, CT. Discount parking is available directly across the street in the Temple Street garage. On weekends, valet parking is also available across the street. For showtimes and information, please call the Criterion Cinema at (203) 498-2500.

Filmed in the fall of 1941, Arsenic and Old Lace was Peter’s second movie at Warner Brothers, following The Maltese Falcon. It would not be released until October 1944, after the Broadway play ended its run. By then, Peter was a year into his contract with Warners and at the height of his career, with frequent radio appearances and a tour of dramatic readings on the stages of the largest movie theaters on the East Coast – in addition to such classic Warners films as Casablanca and The Mask of Dimitrios.

April 11, 2010

All Through the Night at the Brooklyn Public Library

As an entry in the film series "War and the City", All Through the Night (Warner Bros., 1942) will be shown at the Central Library branch of the Brooklyn Public Library on Tuesday, April 13, 2010.

The program begins at 6:30 p.m. in the Dweck Center – Dr. S. Stevan Dweck Center for Contemporary Culture. Admission is free.

The Central Library branch is located at 10 Grand Army Plaza, in Brooklyn, NY. For more information, please call (718) 230-2100.

In All Through the Night , Peter Lorre plays Pepi, the piano-playing hitman of a gang of Nazi saboteurs (or “Fifth Colyuminsts”, as Humphrey Bogart calls them) planning to destroy an American military vessel in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. It was the second film Peter made with his pal Bogie – and his first with Karen Verne (billed as Kaaren Verne).

For his book The Lost One: A Life of Peter Lorre (University Press of Kentucky, 2005), Stephen Youngkin interviewed director Vincent Sherman on the making of the film – and the off-screen romance between Peter and Karen, who married on May 25, 1945. Sherman also joined Bogart biographer Eric Lax on the audio commentary track for All Through the Night, included in the Humphrey Bogart: Signature Collection, Vol. II (2006).

April 3, 2010

It’s Rondo Time Again!

It doesn’t look like much – a small gray bust of a 1940s horror-film actor – but to those lucky enough to win one, it’s as precious as any prize.

It’s the Rondo – a yearly award where the voters are ordinary fans of science-fiction, horror, and fantasy, and the categories include Movies, TV, DVDs, Restorations, Books, Magazines, Magazine Covers, Websites, Blogs, Fan Events, and more.

In the spring of 2006, Stephen D. Youngkin’s book The Lost One: A Life of Peter Lorre (University Press of Kentucky) won the Rondo for Best Book of 2005.

This year, there are two other Lorre items on the ballot:

#4 – Best Classic DVD Collection: Among the nominees is the 4-film, 2-disc box-set Karloff & Lugosi Horror Classics, released Oct. 6, 2008, and including You’ll Find Out (1940), co-starring Peter Lorre, Boris Karloff, and Bela Lugosi in their one and only on-screen teaming in this comic take on the “old dark house” horror staple.

#12 – Best Magazine Article of 2009: Among the nominees is “Peter Lorre: The Lost One Is Found”, written by Herbert Shadrak for the Cinema Retro website, Apr. 4, 2009. The article is both an interview with author Stephen Youngkin and a discussion of Lorre’s career.

Voting is by eMail only and ends Saturday, April 3, at midnight, Eastern Standard Time. The official ballot and instructions, as well as the history of the awards and a list of past winners, can be found here on the Rondo website.

The winners will be announced on the Rondo website as well as the Classic Horror Film Board, in the folder “Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards”.

Happy voting!