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MAD LOVE (1935)

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Peter Lorre made his U.S. film debut as a mad scientist so obsessed with a beautiful actress (Frances Drake) that he buys a wax figure of her from her theater and later tries to frame her husband (Colin Clive) for murder. It was a performance so intensely passionate, Charles Chaplin hailed Lorre as the world’s greatest living actor. Maurice Renard’s novel The Hands of Orlac had been filmed earlier in Germany under its original title, with Robert Wiene directing Conrad Veidt. That version focused on the actress’ husband, a pianist whose hands are destroyed in a train accident. At his wife’s urging, a surgeon replaces the shattered hands with those of a condemned killer. With Lorre having recently won acclaim for Fritz Lang’s M (1931) and Alfred Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934), MGM had their writers turn the picture into a vehicle for him. This was the last of eight features directed by famed German cinematographer Karl Freund, and he and cinematographer Gregg Toland created some unforgettable visuals for the film. Their work is believed to have inspired Citizen Kane (1941), which Toland also filmed, and was copied in Tim Burton’s music video for The Killers’ “Here with Me.” (d. Karl Freund, 68m, 35mm)

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