Here are 10 things you should know about the inimitable Peter Lorre, born 118 years ago today. His Hollywood career began with Mad Love and ended with Jerry Lewis’ The Patsy. Quite a journey.
If you’re anything like us and you happen to reside in or around New York City, you plan to make an almost daily pilgrimage to West Houston over the two weeks for “Fritz Lang in Hollywood,” a two-week retrospective at Film Forum.
GermanAustrian-born Lang would be a revered figure in cinematic history even if he’d never set foot in Southern California. Such influential classics as Metropolis (1927), Spione (Spies, 1929), the Dr. Mabuse trilogy, and M (1931) ensure that.
But Lang became a very important director in the United States, too, beginning with his first Hollywood feature, Fury (1936), starring Spencer Tracy and Sylvia Sidney, which closes the Film Forum series as the 22nd of Lang’s 29 Hollywood pictures to be shown.
While in Hollywood, Lang showed a penchant for cinematic takes on pulp fiction—films noir, westerns, thrillers and espionage adventures—but he never settled for by-rote takes on these familiar genres. He gave his pictures a very particular look and dark mood, with the Expressionism of his making films in Germany clearlly influencing his American efforts.
You can’t go wrong with any of the bills during the series, but we especially recmommend the aforementioned Fury on Feb. 10; You Only Live Once (1937), starring Sidney and Henry Fonda, which is paired on Feb. 9th and 10th with Lang’s gangster musical (!) You and Me (1938), and three terrific noir double-bills: The Woman in the Window (1944)/Scarlet Street (1945 on Jan. 30, House by the River (1950)/The Blue Gardenia (1953) on Feb. 8, and the series-opener, The Big Heat (1953)/Human Desire (1954) on Jan. 28-29, both of which star noir royals Glenn Ford and Gloria Grahame.
If you’re familiar with Lang’s work, you’ve no doubt already got this great retrospective marked in your calendar. If you’re not, clear your calendar now and check out the series’ full line-up to plan which pictures you intend to see. You can thank us later.