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Peter Lorre: Face Maker
Constructing Stardom and Performance in Hollywood and Europe
222 pages, 20 ills, bibliog., index
ISBN 978-0-85745-441-6 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (February 2012)
ISBN 978-1-78533-043-8 $29.95/£23.95 Pb Published (December 2015)
eISBN 978-0-85745-442-3 eBook
“…in her important new study of Lorre’s career…[the author pursues] a rewarding approach that combines careful archival research with clever film analysis to illuminate Lorre’s career from a new angle that not only impacts our understanding of this actor, but also presents an important new way to understand the complex exchanges between on-screen and off-screen performances more generally.” · Senses of Cinema
“In general, the strength of Thomas’s work is that she is familiar with the previous scholarship but also feels free to critique the conclusions of those earlier authors. She focuses much less on biography and gives more attention to theories of drama, which allows her to explore new and interesting aspects of Lorre’s performances…This is an excellent text that adds tremendously to our understanding of the works of Peter Lorre and, by extension, émigré artists in general.” · Journal of Austrian Studies
"The author has a sophisticated command of the material and the book is balanced, judicious and very thorough. In particular, the author explores aspects of Lorre’s career that have been neglected or misunderstood: his “Mr. Moto” roles; his extensive work on radio and television; and the final phase of his film career working at AIP" · Andrew Spicer, University of the West of England
"[This book] makes a significant contribution to the existing literature on stardom and acting, with not only a useful reappraisal of Lorre’s work and reputation but also with some valuable insights into the nature of “extra cinematic person,” the interrelationship between radio and cinema during the studio era, and the significance of actor collaborations. This is a fascinating study of how misconceptions arise over time regarding an actor’s persona and reputation" · Martin Shingler, University of Sunderland
Peter Lorre described himself as merely a ‘face maker’. His own negative attitude also characterizes traditional perspectives which position Lorre as a tragic figure within film history: the promising European artist reduced to a Hollywood gimmick, unable to escape the murderous image of his role in Fritz Lang’s M. This book shows that the life of Peter Lorre cannot be reduced to a series of simplistic oppositions. It reveals that, despite the limitations of his macabre star image, Lorre’s screen performances were highly ambitious, and the terms of his employment were rarely restrictive. Lorre’s career was a complex negotiation between transnational identity, Hollywood filmmaking practices, the ownership of star images and the mechanics of screen performance.
Sarah Thomas is Lecturer in Film Studies at Aberystwyth University. Her research specialisms include: stardom, supporting actors and screen performance, cult cinema and stardom, celebrity and social media, film history and the historical film.