Tuesday, August 12, 2008

On TCM: Wednesday with Peter Lorre

As "Kim Novak Day" continues on Turner Classic Movies (there's still time to catch the little-seen and very good Paddy Chayefsky adaptation Middle of the Night at 6pm, followed by the fine Fred MacMurray noir Pushover at 8pm), Peter Lorre waits in the wings for his closeup tomorrow. Lorre was one of the great all-time character actors, a Michael Phelps of the form, effortlessly stealing scene after scene. Here he is, at his most diabolical, in 1935's Mad Love, positioned for prime time at 8pm Wednesday. Right after that (9:15pm) he adds to the expressionist style (including a memorably off-the-wall dream sequence) of 1940's noir-ish Stranger on the Third Floor, co-written by Day of the Locust scribe Nathanael West. Two of his pairings with "the fat man," Sydney Greenstreet, air beginning at 10:30pm, the legendary Maltese Falcon and the twisty Mask of Dimitrios. A day of lauding Lorre nears its close with one of my favorites, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, airs at 2pm, with Lorre a fine foil for a chipper Kirk Douglas and Esmerelda the seal.

I really should read Stephen D. Youngkin's acclaimed biography of the actor, but tomorrow is a good time to experience some of his facets.

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