Following a period of rehabilitation where he managed to beat his addiction to morphine, character actor extraordinaire Peter Lorre felt confident enough not only to leave his secure employment as a lean, sleek villain in myriad Hollywood noirs and go back to his native Germany after almost 20 years (which, like many compatriots, he had fled when the Nazis came to power) but also to embark on his sole foray behind the camera. Adopting an unfussy technique but a compelling flashback structure, Lorre turned out a truly remarkable piece of work that, equally unsuccessful on its first release as Charles Laughton's THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER (1955) and Marlon Brando's ONE-EYED JACKS (1961), has yet to have its somewhat maligned reputation vindicated in the same unequivocal manner as these two 'one-hit wonders' by actors-turned-directors. A chubbier, infinitely world-weary Lorre gives a haunting central performance as the dedicated, real-life scientist Dr. Karl Rothe who, being told by his superiors that his discoveries were being passed on to the allied forces by his beautiful (and much younger) fiancée, strangles her in a moment of silent rage upon returning to the lodgings he shares with his mother-on-law and her cat; the actress playing Lorre's first victim (Renate Mannhardt) makes such an indelible impression on the spectator that, upon a second viewing, one is surprised to discover how brief her appearance in the film actually is. Changing his identity and now serving as a medical doctor in a refugee camp, Lorre is brought once again face to face with his inner demons in the shape of his assistant during WWII who, apart from having carried on an affair with Lorre's wife, was secretly also an important Party official investigating the infamous "Night Of The Long Knives" conspiracy (which is rather murkily dealt with in the film's latter stages); another enigmatic aspect of Lorre's personality that is somewhat oddly thrown into the mix is his troubled dealings with other women over the years, culminating in another murder committed in a stationary train carriage. Interestingly, the film opens with a shot of a moving train out of which emerges the tiny figure of Lorre walking towards the refugee camp and ends in a devastating medium shot of Lorre, one hand clasped dejectedly to his face, standing stationary on the railroad tracks as a locomotive rushes headlong in his direction! As one can surmise from this synopsis, THE LOST ONE's lack of critical and commercial success ought to be attributed more to its utter grimness and thoroughly defeatist view of post-war Germany than to any jinx the production might have been vested with (the film's producer, Arnold Pressburger, died in mid-production, the original negative was lost in an editing suite fire and the film survives via a reconstructed print, etc.) and, indeed, should be much better known even among film connoisseurs. Personally, I had first come across a copy of the film at a priceless DVD rental store on Santa Monica Blvd. in Hollywood in January 2006 but I have since added it to my collection in a seemingly restored version (albeit sporting distractingly ungrammatical English subtitles).