There’s nothing like hearing Peter Lorre repeating the phrase, “Each man kills the thing he loves”

I was going to write something really great tonight on Twitter’s newly announced ban on political ads and Obama’s recent comments on progressives who spend their time trying to out-woke one another. I really was. But then I realized that the brilliant, dark and absolutely beautiful 1935 Peter Lorre horror film Mad Love (also known as The Hands of Orlac) was on television. And now I’m stuck.

Here, if you’ve never seen the film, is a quick scene, just to give you an idea.

And, here, if you’re still not convinced, is the plot overview from Wikipedia.

Actress Yvonne Orlac (Frances Drake) rests after her final performance at the ‘Théâtre des Horreurs’ (styled after the Grand Guignol) in Paris, France. As she listens to her husband Stephen Orlac (Colin Clive) play the piano on the radio, she is greeted by Dr. Gogol (Peter Lorre), who has seen every show featuring Yvonne, and unaware of her marriage, is aghast to learn that she is moving to England with her husband. Gogol leaves the theater heartbroken, buys the wax figure of Yvonne’s character, refers to it as Galatea (from the Greek myth), and arranges that it be delivered to his home the following day.

Stephen Orlac is on a train journey from Fontainebleau to Paris, where he sees murderer Rollo the Knife thrower (Edward Brophy), who is on the way to his execution by guillotine. (Gogol later witnesses the execution, along with the American reporter Reagan (Ted Healy)). Orlac’s train crashes later that night, and Yvonne finds her husband with mutilated hands. She takes Stephen to Gogol in an attempt to reconstruct his hands, and Gogol agrees to do so. Gogol uses Rollo’s hands for the transplant, and the operation is a success.

The Orlac couple are forced to sell many of their possessions to pay for the surgery, while Stephen finds he is unable to play the piano with his new hands. When a creditor comes to claim the Orlacs’ piano, Stephen throws a fountain pen that barely misses his head. Stephen seeks help from his stepfather, Henry Orlac (Ian Wolfe). Henry denies the request, upset that Stephen did not follow in his line of business as a jeweler. A knife thrown in anger by Stephen misses Henry, but breaks the shop front’s window. Gogol meanwhile asks Yvonne for her love, but she refuses. Stephen goes to Gogol’s home and demands to know about his hands, and why they throw knives. Gogol suggests that Stephen’s problem comes from childhood trauma, but later confirms to his assistant Dr. Wong (Keye Luke) that Stephen’s hands had been Rollo’s.

Gogol then suggests to Yvonne that she get away from Stephen, as the shock has affected his mind and she may be in danger. She angrily rejects Gogol, whose obsession grows. Henry Orlac is murdered, and Stephen receives a note that promises that he will learn the truth about his hands if he goes to a specific address that night. There, a man with metallic hands and dark glasses claims to be Rollo, brought back to life by Gogol. Rollo explains that Stephen’s hands were his, and that Stephen used them to murder Henry. He also claims that Gogol transplanted his (Rollo’s) head on to a new body…flashing a leather-and-metal neck brace as “proof!”

Stephen returns to Yvonne and explains that his hands are those of Rollo, and that he must turn himself in to the police. A panic-stricken Yvonne goes to Gogol’s home, and finds him completely mad (after he has come home and shed his elaborate disguise). Gogol assumes that his statue has come to life, embraces her, and begins to strangle her. Reagan, Stephen and the police arrive, but are only able to open the observation window. Stephen produces a knife and throws it at Gogol, then finds his way in. Gogol dies as Stephen and Yvonne embrace.

It may not be as over-the-top crazy as 1934’s The Black Cat, but it’s pretty damn close. And it’s got something the The Black Cat doesn’t have — Three Stooge’s founder Ted Healy, who, as we’ve discussed before, may well have been beaten to death by Wallace Beery in Hollywood… I could go on, but every minute I spend on the blog, is a minute that I’m not watching Peter Lorre, with metal hands, and an elaborate neck brace, pretending to possess the reanimated head of a criminal put to death by guillotine.

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7 Comments

  1. Anonymous
    Posted October 31, 2019 at 6:39 am | Permalink

    Gogol would make a great Halloween costume.

  2. Kit
    Posted October 31, 2019 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    I am curious as to what you made of the Obama quote on woke culture, Mark.

  3. TeacherPatti
    Posted October 31, 2019 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    I watched that last night too! We are watching TCM all night* tonight!
    *By which I mean until about 9pm when I crawl into bed, weeping at the day’s letdowns and the utter disappointment of my life

  4. dogmatic dolt
    Posted October 31, 2019 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

    Aloha TeacherPatti, Know that your life has not been an utter disappointment. I’ve missed your comments on this blog. Being missed is surely a sign of some form of accomplishment. I don’t get TCM, but some one sent me a link to the “Black Cat” today just out of the blue. So once again the MM karma has demonstrated how it threads through the ether. Your thoughts are doing the same TP. Even being a walking dead has ups and downs–tomorrow or the next day will be better for you.

  5. iRobert
    Posted October 31, 2019 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

    People are loving my Halloween costume – ventriloquist Putin with little Trump dummy.

  6. Satan
    Posted November 2, 2019 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    I hope you are all having fun this Halloween, dressing up in scary costumes and going to parties. Because most, if not all of you, will be joining me in what we’ll call the eternal Halloween party. See you all soon.

  7. Satan
    Posted November 2, 2019 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    Oh, and yes, Mark, Mad Love is a fine film – a love story for the ages.

    “Each man kills the thing he loves.” Truer words have never been spoken. Embrace that truth.

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