Thursday, June 11, 2015

Christopher Lee, Requiescat in Pace

I have reprinted this from "The Hollywood Reporter"

"Lord of the Rings": Sir Christopher Lee knew what stabbing a man 
sounds like.

Before becoming an actor, legendary “Lord of the Rings” star 
Christopher Lee had a very different career. During the Second World 
War, Lee worked behind enemy lines as an agent for Britain’s elite 
Special Operations Executive -- also known as "Churchill's Secret Army" 
or the "Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare." Lee has never discussed any 
of the clandestine missions he took part in, but was able to put some of 
his wartime knowledge to use while filming “The Return of the King.”

In a deleted scene in which Lee’s character Saruman is stabbed in the 
back, director Peter Jackson asked Lee to shout out in pain when the 
evil wizard is attacked. However, citing personal experience, Lee 
quickly informed the filmmaker that a person cannot shout when they’ve 
been stabbed in the back. “He seemed to have expert knowledge of exactly 
the sort of noise that they make so I just sort of didn't push the 
subject any further,” Jackson said. Creepy.

According to media reports, Lee died on Sunday morning, June 7 at 
Westminster Hospital in London after being admitted for respiratory 
problems and heart failure. The Guardian reported that his wife, former 
Danish model and painter Gitte Kroencke, decided to release the news 
days later in order to inform family members first. The couple had been 
married since 1961.

Lee, who as bad guy Scaramanga battled Roger Moore’s James Bond in The 
Man With the Golden Gun (1974) and re-ignited his career in his late 70s 
with what would be recurring roles in the Lord of the Rings, Hobbit and 
Star Wars franchises.

"Such sad news to hear that Sir Christopher Lee has passed away," 
British film organisation BAFTA said in a tweet Thursday. "In 2011, Sir 
Christopher Lee received the BAFTA Fellowship for his outstanding career 
in film."

Incredibly, the London native had more than 275 credits on IMDb, making 
him perhaps the most prolific feature-film actor in history. He did many 
of his own stunts, likely appeared in more on-screen swordfights than 
anyone else and was the only member of the Lord of the Rings cast to 
have actually met author J.R.R. Tolkien, who was born in 1892.

With his gaunt 6-foot-5 frame and deep, strong voice, Lee was best at 
playing characters — slave traders, crazed kings, vampires, demented 
professors — who were evil, murderous, dour and unrepentantly ruthless.

Starting with The Curse of Frankenstein (1957) and Horror of Dracula 
(1958), Lee, like a mad scientist, helped Hammer Films bring the genre 
of horror back to life. He played the bloodsucking and brooding Prince 
of Darkness 10 times but disliked being known as a “horror legend.”

Lee was menacing in the title role of The Mummy (1959) and, that same 
year, starred as the new owner of Baskerville Hall in the remake of The 
Hound of the Baskervilles, starring his best friend, Peter Cushing, as 
Sherlock Holmes. The suave and courtly Cushing was his castmate in Curse 
of Frankenstein and Horror of Dracula as well.

He appeared three times as Holmes on screen, most recently in the 1991 
telefilm Incident at Victoria Falls, and starred as the detective’s 
brother Mycroft in Billy Wilder’s The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes 

Lee also was Rasputin and Lucifer, and his characters executed King 
Charles I of England and Louis the XVI of France. He relished the evil 
roles: “As Boris Karloff [his Corridors of Blood co-star] told me, you 
have to make your mark in something other actors cannot, or will not, 
do. And if it’s a success, you’ll not be forgotten.”

His 1977 autobiography was titled Tall, Dark and Gruesome.

Lee played Rochefort of Three Musketeers fame three times and was Sax 
Rohmer’s Asian evil genius with that distinctive mustache in five films 
of the 1960s, starting with The Face of Fu Manchu (1965).

Ian Fleming, the creator of Bond, was his cousin and frequent golf 
companion. The author wanted Lee to play the title villain in the 007 
film Dr. No (1962), but the job went to Joseph Wiseman. For Bond fans, 
it was worth the wait after seeing his turn as the wealthy assassin who 
employs only bullets made of gold in The Man With the Golden Gun.

Lee’s considerable body of film work also included Captain Horatio 
Hornblower (1951), The Wicker Man (1973), To the Devil a Daughter 
(1976), The Passage (1979), House of the Long Shadows (1983), Gremlins 
2: The New Batch (1990), The Golden Compass (2007), The Resident (2011), 
Hugo (2011) and four films with director/fan Tim Burton: Sleepy Hollow 
(1999), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005), Sweeney Todd: The 
Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007) and Dark Shadows (2012).

Lee, who was knighted in 2009, appeared as Saruman in Peter Jackson’s 
Lord of the Rings trilogy and in the director’s two Hobbit films, 
including The Battle of Five Armies (2014). And he was Count Dooku in 
the Star Wars installments Attack of the Clones (2002), Revenge of the 
Sith (2005) and The Clone Wars (2008).

“This last decade has been the most extraordinary decade of my life,” 
he said in a 2012 interview.

Christopher Frank Carandini Lee was born on May 27, 1922 (American 
horror legend Vincent Price was born on the same date 11 years earlier), 
and attended exclusive prep schools. He went to Eton College and 
Wellington College and studied Greek and Latin.

During World War II, Lee served in the Royal Air Force and Special 
Forces and spent one year in a hellacious winter campaign in Finland. He 
was said to be a spy but never wanted to talk about it, honoring an oath 
of secrecy.

“When the Second World War finished I was 23 and already I had seen 
enough horror to last me a lifetime,” he told the Telegraph in 2011. 
“I’d seen dreadful, dreadful things, without saying a word. So seeing 
horror depicted on film doesn’t affect me much.”

Lee was decorated for distinguished service, and after his discharge, 
he took the advice of his uncle, the Italian ambassador in London, and 
tried his hand in the film business, landing a contract with the Rank 

The Curse of Frankenstein — a box-office hit and the first film to 
feature Mary Shelley’s disfigured creature in color — was a big break 
for him. Lee likely landed the gig because he was so tall.

Wilder told him he needed to come to America to further his career, and 
he took that advice and made Airport ’77, in which his character died 
under water and he almost drowned.

He said the film that made him the most proud was Jinnah (1998), in 
which he played the founder of Pakistan.

Despite his serious demeanor, Lee liked to showcase his offbeat, 
self-deprecating wit. He hosted Saturday Night Live in 1978, and his 
show (with musical guest Meat Loaf) reached 35 million viewers, one of 
its most-watched installments.

“As you may know, I first came to public attention as a result of my 
appearances in certain rather eerie and even macabre films,” he said 
during the SNL opening. “You may be surprised to know that I haven’t 
made one in several years.

“This is because I have a great deal of respect for this kind of film, 
and I don’t think that very good ones are being produced anymore. Week 
after week, I find myself receiving scripts like The Creature From the 
Black Studies Program ... and Frankenstein Snubs The Wolf Man ... and of 
course, Dr. Terror’s House of Pancakes.”

Later, he played a Russian commandant for laughs in Police Academy: 
Mission to Moscow (1994).

An expert fencer and honorary member of three stuntmen unions, Lee also 
knew how to handle a golf club. He was the first actor to be accepted 
into The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers. How good was he? He 
thought he had enough cred to offer advice to Tiger Woods on how to play 
The Masters.

Music was important to him. He appeared in operas, sang “Name Your 
Poison” in The Return of Captain Invincible (1983) opposite Alan Arkin 
and was among the pack of “convicts” on the cover of Paul McCartney & 
Wings’ 1973 album Band on the Run.

In 2010, Lee recorded a symphonic heavy metal concept album, 
Charlemagne: By the Sword and the Cross (he said he was related to the 
emperor on his mother’s side). Three years later, he released a 
follow-up that had Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath on guitar.

“People never thought I would be a heavy metal performer. Well, I am,” 
he said in the 2012 interview.

Sure, he never was nominated for an Oscar, but he has a Metal Hammer 
Golden God Award.

Survivors include his wife Kroencke and their daughter Christina.

Lee, who had a library of 12,000 books on the occult, admitted to being 
fascinated by the nature of evil during a 2003 interview with the 

“'Good’ people ... being persistently noble can become rather 
uninteresting,” he said. “There is a dark side in all of us. And for us 
'bad’ people, the bad side dominates. I think there is a great 
sadness in villains, and I have tried to put that across. We cannot stop 
ourselves doing what we are doing.”

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Birthday Boys!!!! Cushing, Price, Lee!!!

I was just reminded of an embarrassing oversight on my part.  Peter Cushing had a birthday yesterday, May 26 (born 1913); today, May 27 is the birth date of 2, count 'em, 2 horror icons - Vincent Price (born 1911) and Christopher Lee (Sir Christopher, born 1922).  

Bloody "mea culpa"s all over the place.

I understand that Mr. Cushing was one of the sweetest, nicest, kindest actors ever, the kind of guy who made tea for his movie double when the man was not feeling well.   Boris Karloff also was a sweetie.

When Vincent Price came along he gave the others a run for their money for the title of greatest gentleman in the movies.  

Christopher Lee as well.  He sounds like a genuine class act.
Happy B-Day to him, and many more!

And to Vincent and Peter...we miss you.

Mr. Cushing

"The Curse of Frankenstein"  1957
as Osric in "Hamlet" - 1948

as Van Helsing in "Dracula A.D. 1972" - 1972

as Mr. Grimsdyke in "Tales From the Crypt" - 1972

the above pic from "Scream and Scream Again" - 1969.  Vincent Price and Christopher Lee also had very small roles

Mr. Price

from "House on Haunted Hill" - 1959

from "House of Wax" - 1953

from "The Fly" - 1959.  Vincent Price and Herbert Marshall had to do their takes for this scene back to back, because they could not look at each other and say their lines about the fly in the spider web without cracking up laughing.  

from "Laura" - 1944.  With Judith Anderson

"The Pit and the Pendulum" - 1961

from "The Fall of the House of Usher" - 1960

Mr. Lee

"The Horror of Dracula" - 1958

"Dr Terror's House of Horrors" - 1965


from "Dracula A.D. 1972" - 1972.  Getting ready for the shot.  Or should I say "stake".

Got it.

"The Wicker Man" - 1973.  Lee is on the far right, in the dress.

from "The Wicker Man" - 1973. 

Have a comment about this post?  Please, be my guest.  Indulge yourself.  I would love to hear from you.  Click on “Comments” below.  Thanks!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

50 Shades of...Sellout AND 50 Shades in 50 seconds

By way of the website...

Oh, I suppose I may as well join practically everyone else and get cozy in the Redrum ("redrum!  redrum!!  REDRUM!!!) of Pain this weekend, right?  Here is the hilariously spot-on summary by Bo Blaze of the hilariously inept book.    



And for your additional viewing and listening pleasure, here is author Laura Antoniou, feminist and erotic pioneer, reading an excerpt from her parody of, well, you know.  Also from the website 50shadesofcurious.  


While we're on the subject, anyone remember The Bridges of Madison County?  The book was published in 1992 and eventually became #1 on the NYT bestseller list and stayed on the list for almost three (count 'em, three) years.  It sold approximately 20 kajillion copies and was hailed by many people as one of the most romantic books ever written since the first caveperson chipped out his or her daily journal on a rock.  

I finally got around to reading TBofMC and found it to be one of the worst books I had ever read.  (I could never have imagined what would be coming down the pike in about 20 years.)   It was a complete mystery to me what everyone was talking about.   Then a few years later the book was made into a movie by and with Clint Eastwood, also starring Meryl Streep.  While the movie was not great, it was much, much better than the book.  In my opinion.  It also has the advantage of a great soundtrack.  

The whole 50 shades thing seems like a repeat of history.  Although I don't think TBofMC had all the tie-ins (like the kit which includes the fancy grey tie with fetching handcuffs and feathers) that 50 shades has now.  As far as I remember, the only extra from TBofMC was a slight increase in the number of tourists to Madison County, Iowa to visit some of the remaining covered bridges.   Sweetly quaint, isn't it?  

In fact, a trip to view the covered bridges in the lovely, quiet Iowa countryside sounds much, much more romantic to me than opening a box of cynically marketed playthings-for-beginners which is something that someone would give as a gag gift at a bridal shower.  But that's just me.  

Have a comment about this post?  Please, be my guest.  Indulge yourself.  I would love to hear from you.  Click on “Comments” below.  Thanks!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy Birthday - Frank Langella!

Gorgeousity.  Is that a word?  Who cares?  It fits.  

Of course he is here on this blog because he played Dracula, both on Broadway and on film.  

Playbill from 1978 New York production.

The film was released in 1979...
...and I haven't been the same since.  The most compelling, charismatic and irresistible Dracula ever.  (ok, maybe neck and neck with Lugosi.)

Sometimes it's just a swirl of a cape, or a kiss on the hand.



Speaking of his vampire role he said,
No kidding.

Frank Langella was a bouncing New Year's baby on January 1, 1938 in Bayonne, New Jersey.  Just as successful on film as on stage, he is one of America's most talented and versatile actors.  And did I mention that he's gorgeous?  

He has played cads, e.g. in 1970's "Diary of a Mad Housewife" with Carrie Snodgress.  The film captured his first movie role as well as the feminist-consciousness-raising 1960's-1970's zeitgeist.  

He played a cad-turned-sort-of-good-guy in his next film, Mel Brooks' overlooked "The Twelve Chairs". 
"Out goes the bad air, in goes the good air...."

He's played heroes...Zorro, Sherlock Holmes...he's played Scrooge, he's played Sir Thomas More...heck he's even played Skeletor and Richard Nixon.

Great success which continues to this day, many awards, and did I mention he's fabulously gorgeous?

Happy Birthday, babe!!!!  

Have a comment about this post?  Please, be my guest.  Indulge yourself.  I would love to hear from you.  Click on “Comments” below.  Thanks!

The Krampus Song

Better Later Than Never Department:

I realize that we are past Christmas and way past December 6 (the Feast of St. Nicholas) and way way past Krampus Eve...but who cares?  It's KRAMPUS!!

I was going to wait till next year but decided instead to add a little something extra to this season, and for good measure probably use it again next December.  

Courtesy of the TWR Orchestra, here is The Krampus Song, sung by demons who sound a lot like chipmunks.

Extra credit:  "Anton" is supposed to be Anton Lavey, but who are the other two?  Anyone who can identify them gets a free KMR tote bag.  (if anyone actually claims that gift I will panic and try to whip one up.)

p.s. - thank you to Martin Riccardo!


The best I can make out the words:
Allright boys, we're going to do the big Krampus number, OK?


        Sure thing!

Ok, ready Solovino?


Ready Johnny?


Ready Anton?...Anton??   ANTON!!!!!


Krampus, Krampus time is near,
Time for dread and time for fear.
Tried being good but it won't take.
Krampus please give us a break!
Evil kids will all get fat.
          Me, I want to find a pot.
Children soon will face their fate,
Please Krampus don't be late!

Ok, fellas here it comes again.  Solovino, that was very good.


Very good Johnny.


Uh, Anton, you were a little too evil, watch it.  Anton?


We'll all try to play real nice.
            I'll try human sacrifice.
We can hardly stand the pain
of Anti-Santa's chain.
Children all will learn their fate.
Please Krampus don't be late!

Thank you to my wonderful followers and your lovely comments....have a VERY happy New Year!!!!  Just go easy on the human sacrifice, ok?

Have a comment about this post?  Please, be my guest.  Indulge yourself.  I would love to hear from you.  Click on “Comments” below.  Thanks!