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The Lost One: A Life of Peter Lorre [Hardcover]

Stephen D. Youngkin
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
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Book Description

18 Nov 2011
Often typecast as a menacing figure, Peter Lorre achieved Hollywood fame first as a featured player and later as a character actor, trademarking his screen performances with a delicately strung balance between good and evil. His portrayal of the child murderer in Fritz Lang's masterpiece M (1931) catapulted him to international fame. Lang said of Lorre: "He gave one of the best performances in film history and certainly the best in his life." Today, the Hungarian-born actor is also recognized for his riveting performances in The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934), The Maltese Falcon (1941), and Casablanca (1942). Lorre arrived in America in 1934 expecting to shed his screen image as a villain. He even tried to lose his signature accent, but Hollywood repeatedly cast him as an outsider who hinted at things better left unknown. Seeking greater control over his career, Lorre established his own production company. His unofficial "graylisting" by the House Committee on Un-American Activities, however, left him with little work. He returned to Germany, where he co-authored, directed, and starred in the film Der Verlorene (The Lost One) in 1951. German audiences rejected Lorre's dark vision of their recent past, and the actor returned to America, wearily accepting roles that parodied his sinister movie personality.The first biography of this major actor, The Lost One: A Life of Peter Lorre draws upon more than three hundred interviews, including conversations with directors Fritz Lang, Alfred Hitchcock, Billy Wilder, John Huston, Frank Capra, and Rouben Mamoulian, who speak candidly about Lorre, both the man and the actor. Author Stephen D. Youngkin examines for the first time Lorre's pivotal relationship with German dramatist Bertolt Brecht, his experience as an émigré from Hitler's Germany, his battle with drug addiction, and his struggle with the choice between celebrity and intellectual respectability.Separating the enigmatic person from the persona long associated with one of classic Hollywood's most recognizable faces, The Lost One is the definitive account of a life triumphant and yet tragically riddled with many failed possibilities.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 676 pages
  • Publisher: The University Press of Kentucky (18 Nov 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813123607
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813123608
  • Product Dimensions: 24 x 16 x 4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 620,302 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


""Youngkin gets behind the image to incise a definitive portrait, and Lorre becomes a likeness we can like in-depth."" -- Choice

About the Author

Stephen D. Youngkin is the coauthor of The Films of Peter Lorre and appeared as an expert biographer on A&E's Biography tribute to Peter Lorre. He lives in Arizona.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved It! 13 Jan 2006
By PS Dean
Finally, a full-length biography on the fantastic actor Peter Lorre! I waited eagerly to receive this book and was thankful to be in no way disappointed. Mr Youngkin is a writer after my own heart, as he skilfully combines thorough detail about Lorre’s career with illuminating information about the man behind the screen persona. The biography is an excellent combination of obvious respect and admiration for Peter Lorre and a frank look at his fascinating life. Highly recommended.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Achievement in Film Biography 16 Jan 2006
This is one of the most outstanding film biographies that has appeared over the past ten years. Well-written, immaculately presented, the book is a labour of love over which the author has toiled for over thirty-five years by interviewing many people who knew Lorre in Europe and Hollyeood, many of whom are sadly no longer with us. Extensively documented, it presents a model which future biographies should follow. It is a work appealing to both general reader and film scholar on many positive levels. Youngkin's decades-long scholarship deserves high praise for its very thorough approach.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Peter Lorre:The Wasted Years 28 Sep 2010
By Wingate
Peter Lorre starred in so many great films in the 1940s that it is difficult to realise that he had a career both before and after that period.Unfortunately principally through his addition to morphine he wasted many years of his career by appearing as a caricature.He had 3 failed marriages and left no estate to his beloved daughter,dying at just 59.Had he not been an addict his life might have been so different.this book brings out the sadness in his character with the help of many people who remember him with affection.the one black mark against this book is the fact that the author seems to have an obsession with Brecht.So page after boring page is devoted to Brecht.The author clearly needed a much stronger editor.I have found an interview with the author on the net.Unfortunately Catherine Lorre had a very sad and troubled life and died at just33 apparantly from complications arising from her diabetes.Her mother having died a few years after Peter lorre as a result of her alcholism.A sad epitaph to a sad story.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars At last - Lorre biography 21 Jun 2006
I'd like to say at once that Peter Lorre could not have wished for a better biographer. This is the sober, honest and - yes - respectful (I think that is the right word) account of a life which should have turned out differently.
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