“Each man kills the thing he loves…”
Doctor Gogol as portrayed by Peter Lorre in Karl Freund’s 1935 film “Mad Love.”
Peter Lorre (June 26, 1904 – March 23, 1964), was born Ladislav (László) Löwenstein, in Austria-Hungary, (which is now Ružomberok, Slovakia.)
He began acting on stage in Vienna where he worked with Richard Teschner, then moved to Breslau, and Zürich. In the late 1920s he moved to Berlin where he worked with German playwright Bertolt Brecht, most notably in his Mann ist Mann. He also appeared as Dr. Nakamura in the infamous musical Happy End by Brecht and composer Kurt Weill, alongside Brecht’s wife Helene Weigel and other impressive co-stars such as Carola Neher, Oskar Homolka, and Kurt Gerron. The German-speaking actor became famous when Fritz Lang cast him as a child killer in his 1931 film M.
When the Nazis came to power in Germany in 1933, the Jewish Lorre took refuge first in Paris and then London where he played a charming villain in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much. When he arrived in Great Britain, his first meeting was with Hitchcock and by smiling and laughing as Hitchcock talked, Lorre was able to bluff the director about his limited command of the English language. During the filming of The Man Who Knew Too Much, Lorre learned much of his part phonetically.
Mad Love was Lorre’s first american made film, he starred along side Frances Drake and Colin Clive. Karl Freund originally attempted to cast Claude Rains as Doctor Gogol, but Rains rejected the role. When the film was released, some countries banned the film while others cut out the violent scenes. The film is an adaptation of Maurice Renard’s novel Les Mains d’Orlac (1920) and was adapted for the screen by Guy Endore (of The Werewolf of Paris fame)
On its initial release Mad Love was one of the few Horror flops of the 30′s, losing about $39,000, As with most horror films, it received negative reviews, with Time Magazine stating “This is the type of film that brought about censorship.” The box-office failure as well as critical slamming Mad Love received lead to Freund never directing again, though he served as cinematographer on many classic films,
Over time the film has gained a cult following and is now regarded as a horror classic. Richard Scheib’s 2000 review notes, “The role of Gogol is the one that solidified Lorre with American audiences and ensured a career in horror and noir that lasted until his death in 1964.”
A couple of interesting pieces of “Mad Love” trivia:
Gregg Toland was the cinematographer on Mad Love, he would go on to be Orson Welles right hand man during the making of “Citizen Kane.”
The Hays Office cautioned the studio about showing scenes of the dead, injured or dying after the train wreck. Some countries banned the film altogether, while others cut the scenes of torture, guillotining and strangulation.
The line “Each man kills the thing he loves” comes from Oscar Wilde’s poem, “The Ballad of Reading Gaol”.
For more information be sure to check out 1000 Misspent Hours review of Mad Love.
As always, you may order this, or any of my limited edition signed and numbered prints (for a mere $25.00) by visiting the store or by simply clicking the button below.