Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Happy Birthday Christopher Lee!




Last year on this same date I celebrated the birthday of one of my favourite actors, Vincent Price. By some coincidence, today is also the birthday of another horror film veteran, Christopher Lee. (And if that's not amazing enough, his buddy and frequent film costar, Peter Cushing celebrated his birthday yesterday on May 26th!)

But today we honour Mr. Christopher Lee, whom I'm happy to see is still quite active an actor, having appeared in The Lord of the Rings films, as well as in the most recent Star Wars entries as Count Dooku. And as if that wasn't enough, he's done a couple of turns for his big fan, director Tim Burton, including playing Willy Wonka's dad in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I see from his IMDb page that he's also scheduled to play the Jabberwock in Tim Burton's upcoming Alice in Wonderland. I suspect that it will just be his voice that's heard in that role though, as I can't imagine him wearing a rubber dragon-like costume to play the part.

All of this film activity is particularly admirable when one considers that Mr. Lee will be turning 87 today. Where have the years all gone? He received his greatest fame, of course in all of those wonderful Hammer horror films of the late 50s/early 60s, including several star turns as Count Dracula. Frankly, it doesn't seem that long ago when Christopher Lee was starring opposite Roger Moore in the 1974 James Bond entry, The Man with the Golden Gun. It is his role in this film as the million dollars a hit assassin, Scaramanga, that inspired this caricature I drew of him a few days ago after watching the film again on DVD. What a great villain he makes, with that refined deep, rich voice of his - the perfect British cad! I wish I could find a YouTube clip from the film where he speaks, but you'll just have to settle instead for this non-verbal scene where Scaramanga menaces his mistress, played by the lovely Maud Adams:



However, if you would like to hear that deep baritone of his, here's a real oddity I came across in my search where Christopher Lee actually sings. I must admit, I have never heard of The Return of Captain Invincible until now but, after watching this bizarre clip, I have to somehow see this film!!

12 comments:

Brett McCoy said...

Yep, he's a classically trained singer! He is one of my favorite actors, from his days as a Hammer film "star" as Dracula to his fine acting in lots of modern films. He's even appeared in heavy metal videos!

BMan said...

"The Return of Captain Invincible" shot straight to the top of my netflix queue! Thanks!

Belle Dee said...

Seeing this just made my day! This is a fantastic drawing. I'm a big fan of Hammer Horror and I love Christopher Lee! Maybe some time in the future we'll get to see your take on Peter Cushing?

Rick Roberts said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rick Roberts said...

Christopher Lee as Francisco Scaramanga is one of my favorite James Bond villians. He is quite the opposite the literary incarnation who was just a thug with a third nipple and fancy shooting skills.

Also notice Roger Moore in this film is actually a bit of an ass hole. He actually tossed a little boy out of a moving boat ! XD

Pete Emslie said...

Brett - I had no idea that Christopher Lee was a trained singer. His voice is just great!

Belle - I would love to do a caricature of Peter Cushing sometime soon. Actually, it would be fun to draw Cushing as Van Helsing with another caricature of Lee as Dracula, in all of the wonderful rich colours and melodramatic lighting I associate with Hammer horror films. (Maybe throw in a comely corseted female vampire while I'm at it.)

Rick - Yes, I agree that Lee's Scaramanga is a terrific Bond villain. Chris Lee has such a commanding presence, just as he did in all those wonderful gothic Hammer films.

By the way, "asshole" or not, I really like Roger Moore as Bond in this film too. I didn't care for some of his later entries, particularly Moonraker, but in The Man with the Golden Gun I think he's great. As for tossing the kid trying to sell him the elephant trinket out of the speedboat, I say the annoying little bastard had it coming to him! :)

Rick Roberts said...

Pete- Oh I enjoyed Sir Rog's preformance in this film, more then a majority of his Bond films. Also, I thought Moonraker was good but it's A VIEW TO A KILL I can't stand. It's frightfully dull and Moore was just too old to be James Bond, he was 58 when it was released.

Luke Farookhi said...

Excellent caricature - you've captured his prudish lips perfectly!

I had a go at a caricature of Lee as Fu Manchu:

http://www.lukefarookhi.co.uk/Caricatures+-+Celebrities/104801_Christopher%20Lee%20(as%20Fu%20Manchu).html

and recently tried a caricature of the late, great Peter Cushing, Lee's friend and co-star in many Hammer films:

http://www.lukefarookhi.co.uk/Caricatures+-+Celebrities/145004_Peter%20Cushing%20as%20Sherlock%20Holmes.html

Gord MacDonald said...

I don't know how I missed this blog, but now that I have found it I will be checking back regularly. Great thoughtful articles, and awesome drawings.

All of my best!

Mitch K said...

Fantastic caricature! As usual.

Arun said...

Come on Pete,its Dean Martins birthday today ! please do a piece :)

justin said...

Funny clip of him singing, and I like the hommage drawing of him from bond!