Der Verlorene, 1951, Peter Lorre

Collection on Screen:

Eyes Looking At You: Peter Lorre

January 22 to February 26, 2023

Radiant, surprised, tired, sad, agitated: Peter Lorre (1904–1964) looks out at us from the screen with all of these moods. A round, wide pair of eyes is probably the most noticeable feature of an actor who left a decisive mark on cinema like nobody else in the 20th century. Born Laszlo Löwenstein, Lorre dreamed of the theater from an early age, but he first had to learn "something useful" to please his father. A bank employee by day, at night he was a paid clapper in Viennese theaters. An encounter with Jacob Levy Moreno served as his first spark. From then on, he performed all the way from Vienna to Breslau, Hamburg, Zürich and to Berlin's Schiffbauerdamm.
This is where Fritz Lang discovered him for the movies, casting him as the child murderer in M (1931). The role launched him to international stardom overnight and allowed him – if it was a blessing or a curse is another question – to leave Nazi Germany and get a foothold in the US. With his epic theater-influenced performance style, Lorre brings intelligence and brilliance to even small roles. Starting in the mid-1940s, he began to feel obstructed by Hollywood's rigorous studio system. Beat down physically and financially, he tried to find a new start in Germany after the war. His sole directorial effort, Der Verlorene (1951), remains a bitter bit of history. His reckoning with the Nazi regime proved too dark for audiences and led him to return to Hollywood. Nevertheless, anyone who sees him once will never forget his face. Prove it to yourself! (Elisabeth Streit / Translation: Ted Fendt)

Introductions by Elisabeth Streit and Christoph Huber
Related materials