Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The man named Lorre

Four months after the fact, I'm rather surprised that a dispatch on the subject of Mr. Peter Lorre remains one of the Dot Matrix's most visited pages. Who would have predicted?

While the human interest aspect of young Ms. Laurie Masters' adolescent infatuation with the late actor has legs, it seems to be a near-universal fascination with the late Mr. Lorre himself that is driving traffic. People want to learn more and share their affection for this talented thespian.

What's the appeal? He was certainly suave, debonair and exotic. He had an endearing way about him. Even when he was playing a rat or, regrettably, a raven, people felt an instant bond with this fellow. He was a tragic hero even when he was a villain, and he was never very villainous. Was it the accent? His voice? Yes and more.

No summary would be complete without mentioning Peter Lorre's eyes. Limpid pools of tender humanity, a woman could lose herself seeing her reflection in those peepers. What did Mr. Lorre see? It's written on his world-weary face. Greatness and humility are conveyed by every tic and arch. When Peter Lorre cried, I imagine he cried by the bucketful and those weren't crocodile tears. They were the tears of a man who seen both top and bottom. They were tears that pluck at a nourishing lover's heartstrings.

What do men see in a fellow man like Peter Lorre? He never came across as particularly macho, but he could smoke a cigarette like no body's business, relishing carcinogens like they were candy. He sometimes came off as cravenly, but in a tight spot, wouldn't any man be to save his own neck in order to try again another day? I would. So would you, Buster. Be honest.

Though not a politician, Peter Lorre was a man of the people in the widest sense. People identified with him even if they had nothing in common. They still do, though regrettably, Mr. Lorre hasn't worked since 1964 when he passed away. Like any great actor, he could communicate the human condition in a way everyone could relate to. No small feat, and a talent many politicians lack.

So, back to the Dot Matrix's raison d'etre, what does this have to do with Dorchester, Mass? Much like Mr. Lorre, the Dot has a certain je ne sais quoi, an appeal that is hard to pinpoint but that is irresistible nonetheless. The parts shouldn't work together, yet the fact that they do is undeniable, to a degree no one would reasonably expect. Peter Lorre had his magic. Dorchester has its.

If you haven't gotten your Peter Lorre fix yet, and you shouldn't just reading this, there is a Peter Lorre News Blog, that covers all thing pertinent to the appreciation of the man born Laszlo Lowenstein. A tip of the fedora to Cheryl Morris who tends this flame.


Cheryl Morris said...

Thanks for the terrific mention!

Whalehead King said...

My pleasure. It's certainly well deserved.

Hannah K. said...

"Limpid pools of tender humanity"--yes, yes! In my experience, all Hungarians have gorgeous eyes, but P.L.'s were unmatched. I am so glad to be finding kindred spirits, people who understand, and what clever turns of phrase you use!


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