Written by: Paula Limbaugh
Who would’ve thought almost a century after birth Sir Christopher Lee can still generate a buzz. The man is an icon in so many ways and at age 92 he is making music, totally mind blowing!! Born in the UK in 1922 he has been acting, writing, and singing since his first role as Rumpelstiltskin in a school play. At one time he was told that at 6’ 5” he was too tall to be an actor, obviously someone was mistaken!
With over 200 movies to choose from I had a hard time deciding on my top ten Christopher Lee flicks, so I decided on memorable flicks instead.
In the 1957 film, The Curse of Frankenstein Peter Cushing starred as Dr. Frankenstein, and Christopher Lee, his monster. This movie was a major stepping stone for Lee as it was is first movie for Hammer Films and leads us to the next movie great.
This is so classic vampire. Christopher Lee cuts a dashing figure as Count Dracula, a suave and debonair gentleman with a black heart. 1958 marked the beginning of a slew of Dracula movies for Lee but for me this will always be the one!
1959 brought together Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing once again in The Mummy. With Mr. Lee portraying the mummy and Mr. Cushing as John Banning, an archeologist; this was the first time I felt sympathy for the “bad guy.”
The role of Rasputin was such an evil one. Christopher Lee played this mad man to the hilt! The 1966 film was considered controversial by the Catholic Church. It’s a bit ironic that in the 1920’s as a child Christopher Lee actually met Felix Yusupov, Rasputin’s killer.
Yes, another Lee, Cushing film, 1959. Cushing had the starring role as Sherlock Holmes and Lee played Sir Henry Baskerville. I love these hokey Sherlock Holmes movies, as a kid these were the best suspense films ever! This was the kind of movie where you didn’t want your feet on the floor lest something reached out from under the couch and grabbed you!!
What’s not to love? Cheesy horror at its finest in 1965! Christopher Lee heavily made-up portrays an evil Chinese villain. The endings were always the same, you knew he would be back to wreak more havoc.
This 1971 movie was an adaptation of “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”. Lee starred as Dr. Marlowe who invents a drug to help his patients but when testing it upon himself, he becomes the evil Mr. Blake. Peter Cushing’s character Frederick Utterson became Mr. Blake’s victim. Looking back it was another cheesy flick but at the time it was oh so sinister!
1973, Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing are brothers. Cushing is the poor brother locked away in an insane asylum that Lee runs as Dr. Hildren. This is the story of a skeleton that can be brought back to life by exposing it too water. This was creepy!
With this 1976 release came the end of the Hammer Films/Christopher Lee association. This was actually quite good at the time. Lee plays an excommunicated priest who belongs to a satanic order. Here we have good vs. evil fighting for the soul of young Catherine (Nastassja Kinski).
Drum roll please!! My all time favorite Christopher Lee movie is the British 1973 release The Wicker Man. I so love this nod to the Celtic rituals of yore. Such an intense film. Lee is Lord Summerisle, leader of the small population of the island of the same name. Here the annual harvest is celebrated with a young girl as the May Queen. The islanders believe in all sorts of pagan rituals to insure a healthy harvest and if the harvest isn’t good then a human sacrifice is needed. This is so wickedly good and Lee is wickedly delightful. Please don’t be fooled by the 2006 U.S release of The Wicker Man, it just does not compare.
So there you have 10 Christopher Lee movies worth noting. I would like to mention that in 1947 Lee had a bit part in Hamlet; it was this movie that he first acted with Peter Cushing, they ended up doing 26 films together and became life-long friends.