Peter Lorre, Conrad Veidt and a Much Needed Break

I am taking a few weeks off on holiday so the next issue won’t be posted until Sunday, 22 September. Sorry about that. In case you are really feeling deprived, you can check out a new article of mine.

‘With Conrad Veidt and Peter Lorre on their side’: German stars, the psychological film and 1940s horror

in Studies in European Cinema

Volume 9 Issue 2-3

September 2012

This article is an examination of two ‘German’ stars and the ways in which they were understood in the United States in the 1930s and 1940s, after their departure from Nazi Germany. From an analysis of reviews and articles through which these two stars, Peter Lorre and Conrad Veidt, were presented to audiences in the United States, the article will not only demonstrate that they were predominantly understood as horror stars in the period but also that this was due to the ways in which the figures of the horror villain, gangster and spy were seen to be linked with one another at the time. If all three figures were usually presented as being motivated by psychological compulsions, particularly a despotic desire to dominate and control others, the violence that they inflicted upon their victims was presented as being predominantly psychological, not physical. These figures sought to psychologically dominate, control and even destroy others. It was for this reason that Siegfried Kracauer claimed that one of the central features of 1940s horror was its ‘theme of psychological destruction’.

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