Thursday, 11 June 2015

RIP, Christopher Lee

I know I'm not alone in being saddened by the death of Christopher Lee. (Melanie's already done a tribute over at The Folly Bird.) I think what I've found heartening is how many people have really good memories of him, and how many have favourite films - and how different those films and memories are. He seemed to deliver so much entertainment to so many people in so many ways.

I had a big crush on him in my teens, and Christopher Lee remained a favourite of mine to the end. I still have the photo I bought of him when I was at university (tn those pre-internet days, you could buy pictures of movie stars from special catalogues), plus a whole stack of videos.

Elegance is a rarity in men nowadays, but back in the Golden Age of Hammer, that little British studio had two incredibly elegant actors sharing the screen, Christopher Lee and another favourite of mine, and 2014's Bloofer Gent, Peter Cushing. Lee was the perfect choice for Dracula, tall and aristocratic yet able to convey a hint of threat... which would boil over. Some of my favourite films of his include Dracula 1972AD, The Wicker Man, Gremlins 2 (seriously, it's brilliant), The Man With the Golden Gun and all three Lord of the Rings films. Not sure whether to include Beat Girl on this list... oh, why not? The Last Unicorn, for which he provided a voice, makes me cry still.

In real life he'd been a Nazi hunter, and was in Special Forces in the Second World War (some of his work is still classified). He released his last heavy metal album last year. Frankly, if you told someone about Christopher Lee without naming him, they'd say you were making it up. And so farewell to the sinister sauceboat whose real-life exploits matched up to the unforgettable screen personae.

15 comments :

  1. I still can't quite fathom the fact he's gone. A film critic on the news said words to the effect that he couldn't die, that you were of the opinion that like Dracula would rise again, he would always be around. It's just so terribly sad.

    He's right up there on my 'crush list', his intensity on film was enthralling and him circa the seventies, well I have no words.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I watched him in an episode of The Avengers from 1967 last night. Ay caramba, he was handsome.

      Delete
  2. The Wicker Man was the first movie I remember being terrified by. It still unnerves me all these years later, and partly that is down to performance as much as script.

    Those movie star photos were for sale at our neighbourhood news-stand. They had them in a book with plastic sleeves you could flip through, and then give the clerk the page number to buy one. I had completely forgotten about those.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I never knoew you could get those photos on newsstands in the US!

      The Wicker Man was one of his favourites, and it's easy to see why. Great film.

      Delete
  3. Ah the S&P Parker catalogue :) I remember ordering piccies from that as well circa our time at Lampy!

    He was a great screen presense, Golden Gun isn't one of my all time fave Bond films, but his Scaramanga is one of my favourite villains. I like that even when he was smiling warmly there was always the hint that he was about to eat you!

    Legend doesn't even begin to do him justice, much like his partner in crime Peter Cushing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think it was one of your catalogues I ordered it from :-)

      Delete
  4. His real life activities sound just as interesting as his films, if not more so! The Wicker Man is my favourite of his. xxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, he seemed to have so much life - the films were almost a let-down by comparison.

      Delete
  5. One of my favourite actors and nothing to add that hasn't been posted. I read a lot of Terry Pratchett and always read Death in his voice. A true star. Xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He played Death in the animated films, didn't he? Just the right voice for it!

      Delete
  6. Lovely and so sad that we have lost him. “ I still have the photo I bought of him when I was at university (in those pre-internet days, you could buy pictures of movie stars from special catalogues)” I wonder if we have the same one? I use to have that catalogue too! Have you ever seen ‘FunnyMan’? One of my all time favourite (post Hammer) British horror film he has a relatively small role in it but (naturally) he gives it his all (and was very supportive of the project). In it he would recite Alice in Wonderland I always wished someone had hired him to read both Alice books as audio books! :(

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He's dressed as Dracula, and is clutching a stake in his chest, if that helps. (Why yes, I did have odd pin-ups...) I haven't seen FunnyMan at all.

      I do have an audiobook as him reading Dracula. He's very good, apart from when he's trying to be Mina!

      Delete
  7. It was the week for it, Marguerite Patten and James Last too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You don't expect so many people to pass away in Summer, do you? Winter seems to feel more appropriate...

      Delete