Laurie Masters, who lives on Tremlett Street, is certainly the biggest Peter Lorre fan in Dorchester, and is probably the most devoted Lorre fanatic in all of Boston. She is twelve years old and has memorized most of the lines this character actor ever spoke on film.
I visited the Masters' household on Tremlett Street and, indeed, there is a shelf in the family's DVD collection dedicated to the work of Peter Lorre, from his first 1929 appearance in Die Verschwundene Frau to his last, in 1964's The Patsy. There are also stacks of old comic books and movie magazines full of both fictional and factual adventures of Laurie's hero. Why would a young, 21st century, tween girl fall in love with a film star who began his career before the Great Depression? To find out, Laurie, her mother, and I discussed it over #3 Value Meals at the Mc Donald's in Codman Square.
Laurie explained, "We have the same name." I pointed out that the subject of her admiration was born László Löwenstein. Laurie replied, "But he changed it to make it better." I couldn't argue her point, at least from a typographical point-of-view. I pressed further to discover what made him attractive to her. "He has the eyes a girl can fall into and lose herself," she answered. "When I get married," she continued, "I want to marry a man with Peter Lorre eyes." She probably won't have much competition.
Ms. Masters then stood up and started to perform impersonations of her hero. She recited lines from The Maltese Falcon, from Casablanca, and from the various Mr. Moto films and she did it all in perfect imitation of Mr. Lorre's accent and mannerisms. She was at ease and the dining room wasn't overly warm, but she appeared to be nervous and sweaty. If it weren't a skinny, under aged, African-American girl speaking the lines, people would have thought Peter Lorre had returned from the grave. Laurie's mother dipped a french fry into the cup of barbecue sauce we were sharing and then wiped her fingertips before patting my hand. "You see," she said, "Laurie loves the Mr. Moto movies the best."
Do lightning and genetic combinations strike twice? I hope for Laurie Masters's sake she finds her dream man. It may take her awhile (doesn't it always?) but if a modern day Lazlo Lowenstien exists in Dorchester, we are sure this young lady will find him someday.
Peter Lorre's least favorite role, but Laurie Master's pick from his oeuvre: