Tag: Peter Lorre

MOVIE REVIEW | Rope of Sand (1949)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “I was constantly entertained every time the two power hitters came up to bat.”

Rope 1.jpg
“Consider the diamond itself for instance. Carbon, soot, chemically speaking. And yet the hardest of all matters. So hard, in fact, that whatever it touches must suffer.   Glass, steel, the human soul.”

Before I started writing about movies for Bored and Dangerous, I always knew Burt Lancaster was pretty great, but I never knew why.  Tough Guys, his awesome 80s team up with Kurt Douglas and Dana Carvey, might have been the only movie of his I could name off the top of my head back then.  But in the last few years, I have seen a good handful of Lancaster joints.  Some I sought out, some I have been lucky enough to stumble across, but all have been further proof of his awesomeness.  Including my latest lucky discovery, Rope of Sand.

It’s Colonial South Africa, a time when white dudes from various European nations had decided they’d just take whatever they wanted, including South Africa’s immense deposits of diamonds.  When big game hunter Mike Davis (Lancaster) returns to town after several years away, diamond company cop Vogel (Paul Henried) is immediately on his back.  It seems last time Mike left town, it was after a vicious beating at Vogel’s hands in search of a bunch of stolen diamonds. (more…)


In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: M takes a disturbing and bleak subject matter and never tries to water it down.

The main reason I started this blog was to make me watch more movies, and to vary the kinds of movies I watched.  The first part of that has been well and truly accomplished with me watching hundreds of movies for the first time, instead of falling back on old favourites over and over again.   But l’m not sure if I’ve varied my selections enough.  I still watch mainly American movies, with directors, writers and actors that make them a pretty safe bet. So this year, I’m forcing myself to seek out more international movies.  With Foreign Language Weekends, every weekend(ish) during 2016, I’ll review two(ish) non-English language movies.

M 1 
Just you wait, it won’t be long. The man in black will soon be here. With his cleaver’s blade so true. He’ll make mincemeat out of you!

Peter Lorre was a such a singular, unique presence, his persona and ticks are more well known than the man himself. I remember the first time I saw Casablanca and the character of Ugarte, played by Lorre, I couldn’t believe there was a real life inspiration for the seemingly over the top, creepy character type that had been parodied in so many Warner Brothers cartoons. But while his characters in movies like Casablanca and The Maltese Falcon are weasily creeps, they’re nothing compared to what I just watched. Because I just watched Peter Lorre take unsettling menace to a level totally new to me, in M.

Paraonia rules the streets of Berlin. Two little girls went missing and are presumed dead. As a third innocently bounces a ball on her walk home from school, she stops to read a wanted poster for the man now identified as a serial killer if children. A menacing whistle is heard, before an even more mincing silhouette covers the poster. The ball rolls away and the girl is never seen again. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | ***AFI WEEKEND*** #3. Casablanca (1942)

“The American Film Institute’s list of the 100 Greatest Movies was selected by AFI’s blue-ribbon panel of more than 1,500 leaders of the American movie community to commemorate 100 Years of Movies”. Every weekend(ish) during 2015, I’ll review two(ish), counting them down from 100 to 1.


“You might as well question why we breathe. If we stop breathing, we’ll die. If we stop fighting our enemies, the world will die.”

I remember the first time I saw Casablanca. All I could think was, I get it. I get why this movie is still so well known, heavily referenced and so firmly in the zeitgeist more than half a century after its release. I get why Humphrey Bogart is someone I’ve recognised my entire life, even though he died almost 30 years before I was born. I think I’d seen most of The Maltese Falcon on telly once as a kid, but Casablanca was the one that really sealed the deal in making me realise Bogart’s name in the credits was reason enough to watch absolutely anything. Watching Casablanca today for this AFI countdown, is the third time I’ve seen the movie. And none of that initial awe has worn off in those three viewings.

It’s 1941, and as Nazi occupation spreads across Europe, the African city of Casablanca becomes a heavily trafficked port for refugees trying to escape Hitler’s control and make their way to the neutral United States. This kind of passage requires knowing the right people who can help subvert official channels. People like Rick Blaine (Bogart). A former gun runner and mercenary, he now runs a nightclub in the titular city where back room deals go down. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)

Murderess old ladies…  A terrifying serial killer…  Peter Lorre in all his bug-eyed, creepy glory…  The most suave dude in the history of Hollywood.  These things don’t sound like the makings of a comedy, but in the 40s, when screwball comedies were really firing on all cylinders, they’re exactly the kind of weird, disparate ingredients that lead to really funny movies, like Arsenic and Old Lace.

The movie starts with a crowd at a baseball game between the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Yankess that descends into a brawl.  I guess it kind of works as a setup to introduce us to the wild world of New York City where anything can happen, but it really has absolutely nothing at all to do with the rest of the movie which really starts a few minutes later.  Cary Grant is Mortimer Brewster, a newspaper theatre critic who has also written several books about the wonders of bachelorhood.  Despite that, he’s waiting in line for a quickie wedding with Priscilla Lane’s Elaine, a preacher’s daughter and next door neighbour of Mortimer’s two sweet, old, eccentric aunts.

Cut to the aunts’ house in Brooklyn where Mortimer races home to tell them the news before rushing off on his honeymoon to Niagara Falls.  Except, his quick visit turns into a long night of murder, misunderstandings, revelations of terrible family secrets, a nut job who thinks he’s Teddy Roosevelt and general wackiness.   And all that happens before Mortimer’s long lost brother Jonathan (Raymond Massey) returns as a horribly disfigured madman, accompanied by the creepy Dr Einstein, a perfectly cast Peter Lorre with his schtick turned up to 11.

There are times when the stage play origins of Arsenic and Old Lace become plainly obvious.  But while that’s usually a criticism of film adaptations of plays, it generally works here.  With the majority of the movie taking place in real time and on one set, it always works to highlight the constant pressure of the many balls in the air, countless spinning plates and other metaphorical obstacles, distractions and farcical contrivances that make it so much fun.

The real surprise for me was the performance of Cary Gant.  I don’t think I was overstating things when I called him the most suave dude in the history of Hollywood.  He has an effortless coolness and confidence that dominates almost everything he does.  But in Arsenic and Old Lace, he’s a mugging, broad, slap sticky goofball, and I loved every second of it.

It’s rare that a movie gets the mixture of terror and comedy just right, and they really nail it here.  Jonathan, the long lost, black sheep brother, is legitimately terrifying.  Peter Lorre basically plays his sidekick role for laughs, yet every time the two are together it works, and never comes off as two conflicting tones clashing or negating the other.  The two aunts and ‘Teddy Roosevelt’ are big, broad, silly and over the top, but close to perfect in everything they do.  And the out of character performance for Grant really was a great surprise.

I imagine Arsenic and Old Lace is the kind of movie people have in mind when they say, “they sure don’t make them like they used to”.

Arsenic and Old Lace
Directed By – Frank Capra
Written By – Julius J. Epstein, Philip G. Epstein