Sunday, May 27, 2012

Christopher Lee turns 90

Christopher Lee addressing the Berlin Film Festival, 2012Today marks the 90th birthdy of actor Christopher Lee. Lee is probably most associated with all those Hammer horror movies made in the UK in the 1960s and 1970s, or more accurately starting about 1958 with his role as Count Dracula in Horror of Dracula. In fact, Lee would go on to play Dracula again and again and again: if I've counted correctly, Lee played Dracula 10 times over the next 15 years, while making a bunch of other horror movies in between, such as in The Hands of Orlac (1960). In this remake of a 1924 silent by the same title, which is probably best-known for the 1935 remake Mad Love, Lee plays what is essentially the Peter Lorre version in Mad Love.

Lee actually got his start much earlier, though, in the late 1940s, with one of his earliest screen credits being 1949's Scott of the Antarctic, about the ill-fated British expedition to the South Pole in 1911/12. He was in other period pieces like The Crimson Pirate, set in the late 18th century, as well as the World War II sub movie The Cockleshell Heroes (although to be fair he's well down the credit roll in all of these).

As for the Lee films I'd most recommend? Well, there's The Wicker Man, in which Lee plays the lord of the Scottish island where strange pagan rituals are happening, investigated by Edward Woodward. Lee also played bad guy Scaramanga in the James Bond film The Man With the Golden Gun.

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