Tag Archives: Peter Lorre

The Set of 400: #74 – My Favorite Roulette Wager on 22

Today! Because there are certain sections of New York, Major, that I wouldn’t advise you to try to invade –

Casablanca (1942)

Directed Michael Curtiz (x2)

Starring Humphrey Bogart (x3), Ingrid Bergman (x4), Claude Rains (x2), Paul Henreid, Sydney Greenstreet (x2), Peter Lorre (x3), Conrad Veidt, Madeleine LeBeau, Dooley Wilson, S.Z. Sakall, Leonid Kinskey, John Qualen (x2)

Okay, okay, I can hear what you’re thinking:

“Oh, Casablanca? Like the greatest movie ever made is on this guy’s list? Oh, edgy choice, Joe. Way to go. Who’s in your top 100 favorite bands? Let me guess, The Beatles? Great work. Why the hell do I keep reading this thing?”

“What new is he gonna say about Casablanca? Oh, wait, I’ve got it – that the songs are great. That seems like the fun new spin he’ll throw on this. I mean, he put Evita on here, so clearly he focuses way too much on music. Maybe he’ll tell us what a great movie star Humphrey Bogart was. Maybe he’ll quote that whole final scene on the tarmac. Maybe he’ll just drown us in 500 words about Louie kicking that Vichy bottle. My goodness – Casablanca! What an asshole!”

Total doofus

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The Set of 400: #89 – My Favorite Gent From Frisco

Today! Because I couldn’t be fonder of you if you were my own son. But, well, if you lose a son, it’s possible to get another. There’s only one Maltese Falcon –

The Maltese Falcon (1941)

Directed by John Huston

Starring Humphrey Bogart (x2), Mary Astor, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre (x2), Elisha Cook Jr. (x3), Gladys George, Ward Bond (x2), Barton MacLane, Lee Patrick, Jerome Cowan

I had a kick for a few years where I would buy people replica movie props as gifts. I don’t know why, it seems like kind of a cool idea, right? Like, you know someone is into a movie and you find some random junk an Etsy store threw together and boom! Box checked on that gift occasion! Got my wife a “Don’t Fuck with Mr. Zero” t-shirt that she never wears in public from this concept! But I think my favorite item I handed out in this weird stretch was a replica Falcon to my dad one Christmas, which came wrapped sort of like in the movie, and does look pretty authentic, to the grainy 1941 film anyway. It still awkwardly sits near the fireplace at my mom’s house, totally not going with any decor scheme attempted. I’m gonna recommend slapping a Santa hat on that guy next year – maybe that’ll help.

Based on the classic Dashiell Hammett novel, The Maltese Falcon is Bogart cool at its peak. At a stretch, he made Falcon, Casablanca, To Have and Have Not, The Big Sleep, Dark Passage, and Key Largo (with a bunch of lesser fare thrown in), cementing his iconic style of unflappable toughness and half-lisp mumbling. And sure, Casablanca is better, and also features Greenstreet and Lorre in very similar roles (They appeared in nine movies together! Greenstreet only made 23 films total in nine years working!), but Falcon has gritty, San Fran crime noir backstabbing at its core, with the most sought after treasure in history hypnotizing the entire criminal underworld.

Best pals?

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The Set of 400: #247 – My Favorite Scheingericht

Today! Because I have no control over this, this evil thing inside of me, the fire, the voices, the torment –


Directed by Fritz Lang

Starring Peter Lorre, Otto Wernicke, Ellen Widmann, Inge Landgut, Paul Kemp, Georg John, Gustaf Grundgens, Theo Lingen, Fritz Odemar

The shortest title on the list, and quite possibly the greatest movie ever made, is far from a cuddly story. A German city is beset by a whistling child murderer, and loses its collective mind with fear. The movie follows the town’s descent into paranoia and vengeance, hunting this faceless killer, as the police and the town’s other criminal elements concoct their own strategies to ferret him out.

The wonderfully gloomy atmosphere, highlighted by the dark, dank streets and perpetual shadows, adds to the almost unbearable tension of the pace, as society verges on collapse through mutual distrust and frustration. But then, when the plot feels like it has to spiral off in a different direction lest risk the movie boiling over, the targeted manhunt commences. Peter Lorre will never get the due he deserves as an actor, and never is he better than as the soft, baby faced killer, driven by his ugly, confused desires and desperation to escape the howling mob. Lorre would become famous stateside for his roles as weasel-y con man and lowlifes in Casablanca, The Maltese Falcon, and Arsenic and Old Lace, but he was capable of much more, including this almost pitiable monstrosity, Hans Beckert. Old time radio fan that I am, if you want some really great Lorre performances, seek out his Mystery in the Air anthology series from the late ’40s, sponsored by Camel cigarettes!

Many are available on YouTube, or wherever you listen to quality radio programming of seven decades ago!

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