The Lost One

  • 1951
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Drama

Inspired by what he experienced when he returned to his native Germany in 1949, famed Hollywood character actor Lorre directed this, the only film he ever directed in his long career. Lorre is a doctor working in a postwar refugee camp in Germany. He has assumed a new identity, calling himself "Neumeister" ("new master"). He is confronted by John who has...read more

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Inspired by what he experienced when he returned to his native Germany in 1949, famed Hollywood character actor Lorre directed this, the only film he ever directed in his long career. Lorre is a doctor working in a postwar refugee camp in Germany. He has assumed a new identity, calling

himself "Neumeister" ("new master"). He is confronted by John who has just begun working at the camp as Lorre's assistant, and whom Lorre recognizes immediately as an old nemesis from the war days. John seeks a truce, because he needs the doctor to secure false identity papers for him to escape

the Allies. Lorre invites John to the camp's canteen for a drink and dismisses the bartender, so they may speak privately. John, getting drunk, reminds Lorre how he, John, helped Lorre during the war, and, although Lorre never asked for his assistance, Lorre agrees that there is a debt to be

repaid. A flashback shows Lorre working for the Nazis as an immunologist in 1943. John, his lab assistant, enters accompanied by Gestapo officer Rudolf who informs the doctor that they have obtained information that leads them to believe that Lorre's fiancee Mannhardt has sold the results of his

secret experiments to the British. Rudolf suggests that Lorre "end the relationship," and, that night, after confronting Mannhardt, Lorre fondles her pearl necklace and puts his hands around her throat. Back in the present, Lorre confesses to John that he remembers nothing of the murder, but he

feels that he should have been punished. The punishment never came because John and Rudolf covered up the crime. In flashback, a young woman, Hofer, has taken Mannhardt's room in the boarding house where Lorre lives, and he begins to have romantic feelings for the girl, but these emotions soon

turn murderous. Lorre leaves the apartment rather than give in to his impulses. He picks up a prostitute in a bar, and she leads him to her home. When she gets a good look at him, she suddenly becomes terrified and begins to scream that he is a murderer. He flees the building and takes a late

train on which he meets Rausch, a lonely, sexually frustrated woman who tries to seduce him. When an air-raid warning sounds, all the passengers leave the train and head for shelter except Lorre and Rausch. When the passengers return, they find her strangled corpse. Stricken with guilt, Lorre

decides to end his life and that of John who started the whole vicious cycle. Lorre survives the war, having never been able to locate John. Returning to the present, John's reappearance illustrates for Lorre that there is no hiding from one's past. John, quite drunk at this point, dares Lorre to

kill him. Lorre calmly pulls a gun and shoots John, completing his lengthy quest for vengeance. Lorre then leaves the refugee camp, walks on the railroad tracks, and, when he hears the train coming, stops with his back to it and puts his hand over his face before the train runs him over.

Unrelentingly grim, THE LOST ONE is a dark examination of life in Germany during, and shortly after, WW II. Lorre evokes the visual style of Fritz Lang, who directed him in his finest film, M. Though critics at the time claimed that Lorre was just retreading Lang's M for his own use, THE LOST ONE

is a quite different film and, in fact, could be considered an extension of his character in M. Lorre, as the compulsive killer, confronts himself and must deal with the guilt that stifles his existence in a way that the child-killer in M never did. THE LOST ONE was badly received in Germany when

it was released, quite late in the post-war cycle of filmmaking. The grim, bleak, conscience-raising German films had fallen out of favor with the public, thus dooming Lorre's film at the box office. Seldom seen in America, THE LOST ONE could only be viewed in an unsubtitled print donated by Lorre

himself to UCLA Recently, Fred Pressburger, son of producer Arnold Pressburger, has revived the film, rerecorded the soundtrack, added sub-titles, and rereleased it in art houses in the US.

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  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Inspired by what he experienced when he returned to his native Germany in 1949, famed Hollywood character actor Lorre directed this, the only film he ever directed in his long career. Lorre is a doctor working in a postwar refugee camp in Germany. He has a… (more)

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