Background to Danger

The right pairing on the movie screen can elevate the unexceptional to the sublime. Fred and Ginger. Redford and Newman. Powell and Loy. And, the Laurel and Hardy of intrigue and creep, Sydney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre.

Lorre and Greenstreet were teamed up in nine films for Warner’s beginning with 1941’s The Maltese Falcon. The Maltese Falcon was the first film Greenstreet ever made at the age of 62. Quite an amazing debut. But wait–to top that off, he was nominated for an Academy Award for his effort.

Background to Danger was made as a fast follow-up to cash in on Casablanca’s success in 1943. W.R. Burnett and William Faulkner were brought in to work on the screenplay for Ambler’s novel, Background to Danger. Pretty big guns, huh? The movie was directed by Raoul Walsh (High Sierrra, White Heat). The  duo from Casablanca shows up again in  another Ambler-based film, The Mask of Dimitrios, in 1944.

Billing Mystery*

Note that on the window card that Greenstreet is given top billing. For some reason, after their first picture together, Lorre was not allowed to be billed over Greenstreet no matter what. Even if Lorre’s part was much bigger. I don’t know the  reason for this. Lorre had been in films for nearly twenty years, and had starred in Fritz Lang’s masterpiece M and the Mr. Moto series. So, if anything, Lorre should have received top billing.  Is is due to the Warner studio head’s  disdain for Lorre’s legendary practical joking?** Did Greenstreet’s Academy Award nomination go to his head? Alphabetical order? A little mystery to ponder.

Window Card Condition

FINE:  An original poster with bright colors, clean, with general signs of use. Background has sustained some yellowing due to age, mainly at edges of cardstock.

**Apparently Lorre’s pranks knew no bounds. When called to stand before the infamous McCarthy House Un-American Activities Committee and name names, he did just that. He named names and names and names. Everyone he knew including childhood friends back in Hungary. Eventually the committee tossed him. –A new Hero!!

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