Christopher Lee, who was a magnificent slice of ham, has died at the age of 93. Lee was best known for his villains and genre pictures but he was an actor of great range and power who made a whopping 281 movies. I got a kick out of describing his career to people who first discovered him as Saruman in the Lord Of The Rings films. I’d boil it down to this: provoking hisses and scaring people shitless long before you were born. In many ways, Lee was the Vincent Price of British cinema, and like Vincent, he was famous for being nice in real life.
The heart of Lee’s career as a hiss provoking villain were the films he did for Hammer productions in the 1950’s and ’60’s. I was an avid consumer of these films on Creature Features when I was a tadpole and still have a preternatural fondness for them. Lee was cast with Peter Cushing so often that they became one of the greatest screen teams of all-time but with a twist: they were often adversaries. Silver screen frenemies for life.
Here’s a picture of Lee, Cushing, and Vincent Price doing that voodoo that they did so well:
It’s appropriate that the announcement came on Pulp Fiction Thursday since Lee was best known in his heyday for horror films, which gives me an excuse to post some more film posters. Before I do that, take a gander at this tribute from veteran Guardian film critic, Peter Bradshaw.
Bradshaw is not as fond of Lee’s horror films as I am but I was never a film snob. I’ll take a good genre flick any day over a film that shoves art down your throat but I digress. Guess you’re used to that by now…
Time for a look at Christopher Lee’s career, Pulp Fiction Thursday style:
More OTT lobby cards and posters after the break.
In addition to co-starring in a gazillion movies with Peter Cushing, Lee worked on several occasions with his fellow magnificent ham, Vincent Price:
The only thing scarier than a coffin is a crazed cult. The Wicker Man was one of Lee’s finest films and contained one of his best performances:
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Christopher Lee’s side career as a singer:
Finally, Christopher Lee died many times on screen; never more spectacularly than in The Horror of Dracula at the hands of Peter Cushing as Van Helsing:
Unlike Dracula, Christopher Lee won’t miraculously rise from the dead to walk among us again, which is a great pity. He will be missed.