Sunday, June 14, 2015

Raise a Glass to Christopher Lee

Last week was a difficult one, for a myriad of reasons. However, this blog isn’t a vent session, but needless to say last week provided some challenges, then topped it off with the news that my all-time favorite villain character actor, the great Christopher lee, passed away. A lot of folks were quick to remind me that he was Ninety-Three… I know that, it’s just that he had been around so long that I was kind of hoping he really was immortal.

Lee is a unique figure in cinema. Back in the day there were plenty of actors with cross-generational appeal, but those days are gone. As a child, I would enjoy Danny Kaye, Gene Kelly, and Bob Hope with my mom, and with my Dad I would watch the classic monster movies, led by Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Vincent Price, and of course Christopher Lee. Of that batch, the only one any children that I might have will have a chance of knowing is Christopher Lee, as his career was so huge that few can match it.

Our favorites were the old Hammer films, where Lee portrayed Count Dracula, often across from
Peter Cushing, who played Dracula’s regular foil, Van Helsing. My dad firmly holds to the belief that Christopher Lee was, hands down, the best Dracula ever, even in the movie where all his did was hiss at people (reportedly because the script was so bad that Lee refused to read any of the lines written for him.) It’s hard to disagree with my dad on that one, because Lee was the sort of actor who threw his full self into whatever role he played, whether it’s a cheese ball Dracula movie, or Bond Villain Scaramanga (the Man with the Golden Gun) Lee would deep dive the role and deliver brilliant performances every single time without fail, making him undeniably one of the greatest character actors of all time, and the greatest villain actor of all time.

But whereas Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff were already gone by the time I was born, like my father before me, I got to grow up with this man, who incidentally had my grandfather as a fan as well. My Grandfather passed on his love for Christopher Lee to my Dad, who passed it on to me. Someone tweeted this week that if you have kids they know who Christopher Lee is, and if you still have your grandparents, they know who Christopher Lee is. This is an absolute truism.  For the older generation,  Lee will be remembered as Dracula, for younger generations he will be Count Dooku, or the evil Wizard Saruman, for those of us in between, he will be remembered for countless roles spanning an incredible seventy yearlong career, and over two hundred and fourty different films, many of which my brother and I would enjoy watching with my Dad on “Fright Night Fridays,” a tradition we used to hold sacrosanct, that I miss terribly, as I will deeply miss this finest of actors, and finest of men. 

I raise my glass to you Christopher Lee! Thank you for so many years worth of fond memories. God bless you!   

1 comment:

  1. Are you thinking we need to do a Christopher Lee marathon? We have enough of his movies to do one :) Beautiful tribute.