peter lorre:WHAT A CHARACTER
So today I talk about peter lorre for What A Character! blogathon hosted by Once Upon a Screen, Outspoken and Freckled, and Paula’s Cinema Club. This post is written in conjunction with the What a Character! blogathon for it to honor the wonderful Character actor peter lorre i talk about him for my tribute today in my artcle today. If you want to check out posts form this event please do so anytime at Once Upon a Screen, Outspoken and Freckled, and Paula’s Cinema Club. So let’s begin to honor this wonderful Character actor today
Few American films have ever been held in such universally high regard as Casablanca.It is among of my favorite movies all time. Few flims are so highly regarded as this classic as its most requoted with referenced, parodied, and paid homage to across film & television. It’s full of witty, memorable lines that always seem to showcase this classic often. ***This is a short analysis of the film. It contains spoilers. Casablanca is not a film noir per se, but it reflects many elements of the genre, mainly its setting, mood, cinematic style, and typical romantic lone hero. Most of the action takes place in the title city of Casablanca. The urban environment of transients is over-crowded and decadent, a hotbed for crime and corruption in which the hopefuls wait for their chance to escape to Lisbon, eyes expectantly drawn to the sky (“Perhaps tomorrow we’ll be on that plane”) and the less fortunate steal, beg, bargain, and otherwise traffic in human misery. The men and women who stop in Casablanca on their way to a better life never want to be there. The war affects everyone: “the leading banker in Amsterdam is the pastry chef; his father is the bellboy,” a loyal employee of Rick’s informs a customer. The police force, represented by Nazi-collaborating, corrupt official Capt. Luis Renault (Claude Rains), knows that “human life is cheap,” and so is honor. Cops round up suspects even when they already know who committed the crime, shoot people and then decide whether to call it suicide or resisting arrest, expect to win at roulette tables in illegal establishments, ask for sexual favors in return for signing documents, and generally “blow with the wind” in providing support. Signor Ferrari (Sydney Greenstreet), as leader of all illegal activities in Casablanca, holds a very high position of influence and is considered “respectable.” In a world in which crime is a daily constant and the corrupt prosper, in which man-made laws are meaningless, the good and just must abide by laws higher than themselves. But how does one single film manage to be just as effective each and every time? How is that every time Rick is left at the train station, I find myself feeling just as betrayed as he is? How is that all these comedic bits I’ve heard countless times still make me laugh hard? How come I am deeply moved every time during that final exchange between Rick and Ilsa? The answer lies in the films craftsmanship, which has led to its timelessness. Everything about Casablanca is made perfectly. The script paces itself perfectly, making sure to never waste your time on something that isn’t important. The dialogue is sharp, always revealing something about the characters, and moving the plot along, sometimes all at the same time. The actors are involved. Rick is the role Bogart was born to play. Ingrid Bergman is beautiful as Ilsa. Claude Rains is a great comedic straight man, often bringing some humor to dramatic scenes, but never interrupting them. Curtiz knows when to let his actors speak as truly marvelous acting form everyone to its leads to the supporting cast of the movie as this movie is a classic as time itself. so its a must see classic you should check out today.
M (1931 film) review
M is a film that requires no introduction. On many lists that attempt to put together the “best films ever made”, M is a film that always seems to feature prominently. Directed by the legendary German filmmaker Fritz Lang, M was his first sound film after having previously made his name in silent cinema with this certainly being quite evident as long stretches of the film go by without any sound at all or with simply no music. This leads to M feeling almost like a silent film with sound (if that makes sense at all), as Lang – along with many of his contemporaries – was still unsure of how to deal with sound in film and thus this led to an often noticeable lack of music in films coming shortly after the advent of sound films. M embodies this and, yet, might be the finest film to come from this era of confusion. A masterful psychological thriller with gorgeous German expressionist cinematography, a brilliant performance from Peter Lorre, and brilliant social critiques, M is a film that thrills, terrifies, and paints a chilling picture of the world around us. As with any film by Lang, the film’s cinematography is gorgeous in how it captures the streets of this quiet German town that has wracked with fear over the constant child murders that has led to much speculation and investigation as to its culprit. Often set during the night, the dark streets of this town are left with nothing more than the street lights as a light source. This is even more true when the action is set indoors as the mysterious Hans Beckert (Peter Lorre) hides from the night watchmen or from the furious gang seeking his apprehension. Constantly lurking in the shadows or being captured in profile, Beckert is a man whose fan we know but is one that is often obscured or hidden away. Instead, it is his victims who stand at his side whose faces we see clearly. As they bound about all happy about getting a balloon or some candy from Beckert, this sadistic killer looks around or turns his back to the camera. This changes by the film’s finale where Lorre is consistently facing the camera as his trial occurs, but before then, his lack of visibility created this mysterious aura about him, especially in the first time we see him as Lang uses just his shadow cast over a wanted poster to introduce the audience to the character. Visually, one of the standout moments comes with an aerial shot of Beckert running the dark streets frantically in an attempt to escape the beggars who have tasked with locating the murderer. Running for his life only to find his every possible escape blocked off by these men, he is forced to run into a building which leads to a thrilling and gripping chase sequence both in and out of the building. The moment is a real highlight in the film with the shot being just the cherry on top to the masterful display of tension and thrills demonstrated by Lang in the moment. However, in discussing the film’s visuals, it is impossible to not mention the reliance upon mirror reflections. Often times, Hans is looking into a window or just a mirror and we see both his profile and his reflection. The significance of this does not come into play until the finale. Captured by the crime underworld who views him as a liability and a threat to their business with the cops raiding clubs run by the gangsters on a nightly basis to find the murderer, Hans is brought to their secret hideaway for trial. Surrounded by the gangsters, the club patrons, and the beggars, Hans is forced to face a literal court of public opinion which is inclined to find him guilty. Pleading his case, Lang uses Hans as a means to discuss the concerns in the world regarding mental health. It may be 1931, but Lang showed a great understanding and compassion for those suffering from mental illness, as is the case with Hans Beckert. He kills young girls, but has no recollection of doing so and is appalled by what he has done, but what he does it out of compulsion. Can one really be made to hang for the chemical imbalance in their brain or should they be turned over for treatment instead? It is a worthy question and it is one that Hans poses to the court of public opinion as he describes the way in which he tries to outrun himself. He lives in the shadow of himself and also feels himself following him around every corner and down every alley. He, in many respects, is a Jekyll/Hyde character who is a normal everyday person until a switch flips – a switch that is always there – and he becomes a sadistic killer who preys on young girls. The mirror shots used by Lang perfectly hint at this as they show his fractured sense of self that has become divided by the Hans Beckert that has already been rehabilitated by doctors and the Hans Beckert that is compelled to kill to satisfy his most depraved urges. He is a despicable figure, but one that is deserving of an unexpected level of sympathy for how even he agrees that his actions are heinous but pleads that he would never do it if he were in control of his own actions. Thematically, the film shows a few concerns that Lang has with society. Seeing the rise of the Nazi Party – one that would see Lorre flew Germany just two years later – he was beginning the rise of the persecution culture that was prevalent in Germany and led to the Holocaust, in which scapegoats were sought for the ills of society and Jews, homosexuals, the mentally ill, and the handicapped, were the unfortunate targets. In this film, Lang shows the dangers of this culture in the search for the child murderer. With the police receiving about 1600 reports about the killer with conflicting witness statements for every single report they have received of the killer’s whereabouts or even just the color of a hat a missing girl was wearing, the police’s job has become incredibly difficult. Random men are attacked in the streets and accused of being the killer. They are brought in the police station or just have their lives threatened by the angry onlookers who are certain they have found the killer as the guy innocently asked a little girl where she lived. It is a terrifying display that gives the film much of its tension as you can feel the paranoia of this town bubbling over to the point where it is not just imperative to capture this killer to protect the children he may kill. It is also imperative to find him to just end this insanity that has led to everybody near a child becoming a suspect. However, the same idea is shown and expanded upon as Hans is captured by the gangsters and beggars. Bringing him to their hideaway to face trial by the angry mob that is the court of public opinion, this is obviously not a fair trial. He is guilty, yes, but they have loose shreds of evidence, the letter “M” on his shirt from a guy who saw him with a little girl, and the fact that he ran as their chief pieces of evidence that are thrown at him and used to condemn him to death at the hands of the mob. These are circumstantial at best until he admits his guilt, but they show the danger that can ensue. The public is not a position to judge guilt without actually hearing proper evidence or having been there, as they simply do not know. They rely upon conjecture and hearsay to form their opinion without actually thinking about the evidence, whether it makes any sense or not, and simply approaching the situation rationally. Instead, it is insanity that rules the day and leads the charge with everybody so angry that they seek to find somebody to accuse. In this case, Hans is guilty but the other men accused were not and yet they had their names dragged through the mud in the name of fear. The same occurs everyday, especially now that all of these sexual assault stories have come out. Many of the men accused are guilty, but it is out of fear of the innocent ones of the bunch that we must wait to hear all of the evidence – even the defense’s evidence – before coming to a conclusion in a court of law and not in the court of public opinion. The public’s aim is simply too off-center and leads to too many people catching a bullet that should have been meant for somebody else, with Lang’s film being extremely concerned about this element in particular. However, he similarly questions why the public believes they can judge these criminals. In this case, the gangsters have killed people themselves in the past, yet they feel as though Hans’ crimes are worse. How can they be so arrogant and unaware of the trauma their own actions have caused in the past? It is not just mob justice, but an example of how “an eye for an eye makes the whole blind” and “let he who is within sin cast the first stone” as shown in Hammurabi’s code and the Bible, respectively. These are people throwing hatred and judgment while they have skeletons in their own closet and are not without their own demons in the past. The court of public opinion is not just dangerous, but also hypocritical in Lang’s eyes as he uses a court of gangsters as a bit of hyperbole to demonstrate quite obviously the ills people possess in their own character and yet still try to judge the actions of others while giving themselves a pass for the same action. Even more, Lang ends the film by demonstrating the pointlessness of these actions. As his verdict his read, a mother sits crying and looks right at the camera, begging for people to not be like the people in this film. Killing Hans will not bring back the girls, nor will they bring any peace or comfort. Vengeance is not the answer, rather compassion and understanding are the gateway to feeling a sense of closure. Acting-wise, M is pitch perfect with a stunning lead role from Peter Lorre. For one of his first bits of film acting, he demonstrates his impeccable talent as he pleads for his life from this court of public opinion. Begging for mercy and for their understanding of the mental issues he suffers from, he gets down on his knees, shouts, and begs. It is a stunningly emotive and emotional performance in this moment in which Lorre really knocks it out of the park in communicating authentic and raw emotion that never feels too much or poured on too thick. Instead, it really resonates and makes every word from the script land with great resonance. Lorre’s strong performance, as always, relies greatly on his very expressive face as, for much of the film, he is silent. As he hides in the attic of this office, we are left with the dark figure of his body with just his eyes and face there to show his panic about possibly being seen. His face in the mirrors or as he looks panickedly over his shoulders to make sure nobody sees him stalking young girls is similarly demonstrative of his incredible physical performance with his closing monologues demonstrating his incredible spoken performance. It is a truly rounded turn from Lorre that shows great understanding of the craft that, for many, would come after years of being in films. However, he demonstrates just how far having learned the craft on the stage that can take an actor. M is a brilliant work and is one that was long overdue for me to finally watch. It is not just an influential work, but rather one that resonates greatly to this very day and has demonstrated great staying power with gorgeous cinematography, tremendous direction, excellent acting, smart themes (that are still relevant), and a thrilling plot that keeps audiences more than engaged. It is a film with practically no flaws whatsoever, which is truly a rarity.
Surgeon Gogol (Peter Lorre) is madly in love with performer Yvonne Orlac (Frances Drake) not knowing that she is married to concert pianist Stephen (Colin Clive). After a horrific accident the husband is left with useless hands so the wife begs Gogol to save them. The doctor decides to put the hands of a murderer onto the man and soon murders begin to happen. There have been several film versions of Maurice Renard’s novel ‘Les Mains D’Orlac’ but nothing has come close to the power of this 1935 gem from MGM. I must admit that outside of FREAKS I really don’t think the MGM horror films are that great but this here is certainly a cut above the rest. Sure, the studio delivered some good horror films but not too many could match what Universal was doing but this one here certainly came close. They say you shouldn’t judge anyone by their looks but can we really not do that with Lorre? There’s no question that he was a terrific actor and after the success of M he ended up playing the maniac more times than not but he was so great doing it. This here is another terrific performance as he is quite chilling with his obsessive act and there’s no question that he’s quite the menace. Drake is also very good as the love interest and Clive was always great at playing this type of role. The film really benefits from the great performances but director Karl Freund also adds some good atmosphere here. This is a rather dark movie and the cinematography was perfect and there’s no question that it packs a nice little punch. MAD LOVE has been copies countless times over the years but nothing has come close to its power.
The Maltese Falcon (1941) review
John Huston’s 1941 adaptation of Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon opens with a text scroll detailing the history of an ancient treasure. This short introduction could not have been more prophetic, because The Maltese Falcon is a true treasure. This is the quintessential film noir, a movie I don’t mind calling perfect, as it tells the story of a slick private investigator who gets tangled up in the convoluted quest to obtain a legendary falcon statue. Whenever I get around to making my all time favorites list, I’ll be surprised if this doesn’t perch near the pinnacle of it. If you are like me, and haven’t before seen this classic, then stop reading now, because the less you know going in, the better, all you need to know is this is the kind of film that film fans live for. The plot is pure masterwork, there is no other way to put it. I’m not going to go into specifics for two reasons, one, in case you haven’t seen it and didn’t heed my warning above and two, because it would take a long time to unravel this one. What I will say is that this is the twistiest, most knotted, convoluted, layered story I think I’ve ever seen, all the more impressive in that it works flawlessly and never for a second lost me. All that aside though, one of the things I adored most about this film was that I was along for the ride, I love trying to predict plot details while experiencing a story, but I could never get ahead of John Huston’s script, each moment was exciting and unpredictable, and like the film’s main character, I never knew what it was going to do next, all the way until the final fade to black. In addition to the wonderful writing, the acting and character work are superb. Lead character Samuel Spade, played by Humphrey Bogart, might be the coolest character in cinema history. He is a fast talking, cynical, cold-hearted, triumph of writing, who navigates the film’s narrative with a level of bemused sadism, while remaining immune to flattery and bullshit alike. He is aided by his no-nonsense secretary, a wonderful character played perfectly by Lee Patrick. Of course, a noir would be nothing without a femme fatale, here played by Mary Astor, who is also great, as she tries and fails to manipulate Spade. A story like this also needs villains, and boy does The Maltese Falcon have villains. First up you have Joel Cairo, played by Peter Lorre, a character with that name, played by such a iconic actor, what more do you need to know. That’s not it however, this was the film debut of Sydney Greenstreet, playing a gent named Kasper Gutman, you can could tell that Greenstreet was a veteran of stage, because despite this being his first film credit, he commands the screen, owning every minute and holding his own toe-to-toe with legends like Bogart and Lorre. Another star of the film is Huston’s camerawork, aided by Cinematographer Arthur Edeson, Huston paints the film in smoke and shadow, creating one of the most beautifully shot works of cinema I have ever seen. I could keep praising every aspect of this film, but I don’t need to, likely you have already seen it, but if you haven’t, give yourself a gift and watch it immediately. Full of iconic characters, great performances, wise-cracking dialogue, flawless visuals, and the most intricate story imaginable, The Maltese Falcon is, in fact, the stuff that dreams are made of.
The wonderful Character actor peter lorre whom i talk about some of his classic roles he played on the screen. He was a marvelous actor that played many wonderful roles on the screen. I hope you check out other posts form this wonderful blogathon honoring wonderful legends of the screen. I would love to thank the hosts to this wonderful blogathon. I hope you join me in the future for another review on my blog.