Another Meme Thing: Two Actors

This is just a thing people have been tagging me with, and even though they always say “You don’t have to comment,” well, I am a writer; if I can’t comment, what’s the point? After my answers ballooned up to column-size I decided to make it a column. Both times I was tagged I tried to answer and got carried away, and finally concluded I was an idiot to give it away for nothing when it was perfectly usable in this space.

So here you go.

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Actor assigned to me:
Christopher Lee

Movie I love: Dracula A.D. 1972.

Really I love all the Hammer Draculas but this one just delights me. A lot of Hammer fans hate it and cite it as the one where the franchise went off the rails but I don’t care. Lee wasn’t all that thrilled with it himself, for that matter, being a bit of a Stoker purist; but he digs in.

But the thing most often cited as its weakness, the classic Dracula and Van Helsing duel set against the background of a groovy hippie devil cult, is the thing I love about it. Especially Christopher Neame as the vicious Johnny Alucard.

His showdown with Van Helsing somewhat eclipses the final confrontation with Dracula himself, if you ask me. And it never fails to put a big grin on my face that Peter Cushing is cooler, smarter, and more dangerous than Alucard and his mod hench-vampires.

Truthfully, it’s not a great “Christopher Lee” pick; it’s stolen out from under Mr. Lee by pretty much everyone else in it. But I love it, helplessly and unreservedly. I was delighted to discover Bruce Timm loves it too.

Movie I like: Oh, lots of them, really, but here’s one you may not know about.

Pirates of Blood River has Mr. Lee as a vicious pirate, LaRoche, who’s holding an entire village hostage until someone leads him to the treasure reputedly buried there. There’s a lot more to it– really, it’s just a swashbuckling good time– but that’s the short version. Here’s the trailer.

You can find it on DVD as part of this collection.

Movie I hate: Christopher Lee had a long and varied career and yeah, there were a few dogs. But the one that disappointed me the most was probably Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Necklace.

Lee was a devout Holmesian and he clearly loved playing Sherlock, but even though he is wonderful in this, the movie is so terrible that he can’t save it. Just an incoherent mess.

Movie that’s a guilty pleasure:
The Terror of the Tongs.

Casting Christopher Lee in bad Asian makeup as, basically, Fu Manchu is horribly insensitive. The movie is filled with equally horrible Yellow Peril stereotypes.

Nevertheless, I’m a pulp guy and this is about as close as we got to Sax Rohmer on screen. It’s on the same DVD collection as Blood River if you are curious.

Movie I am embarrassed I haven’t seen:
Not EMBARRASSED exactly but I have to admit I haven’t seen Return of the King.

I just can’t get into Tolkien. I liked the first two movies okay, considering they are (blessedly) much faster, stripped-down versions of the books, which I’ve always found an awful slog; but I just wasn’t interested enough to see the third one. I’m sure Lee’s great in it, but… Tolkien. Not my thing. Honestly, I’ve always felt Tolkien should have quit after The Hobbit.

In a just world Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain books would have gotten the big-budget treatment instead of Tolkien, and they’d have cast Christopher Lee as Dallben the enchanter. Sadly, that’s only in my imaginary dream Hollywood; the same one where Lee got to play Ra’s Al Ghul in a seventies Batman movie. Sigh.

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Actress assigned to me: Jane Seymour
Movie I love: Somewhere In Time.

Richard Matheson was a goddam national treasure and for my money this is the best adaptation of one of his books to the big screen… yes, better than Hell House and The Shrinking Man. The cast is uniformly wonderful, and Ms. Seymour really sells it as naive-but-romantic actress Elise McKenna.

Movie I like: Lassiter.

More of a Tom Selleck vehicle than a Seymour one, but I still dig it. And she has her moments.

Never understood why it didn’t do better at the box office. Here’s the trailer.

Movie I hate: Frankenstein: The True Story.

This thing is so bad that it’s not even a guilty pleasure. It’s just bad. Everyone involved should be ashamed of themselves. I saw it when I was a kid and was bitterly, bitterly disappointed because I’d just read Mary Shelley’s book, and given the title, I thought that was the story I was getting. I’m still kind of annoyed about that disappointment today.

Movie that’s a guilty pleasure: The is the one everyone probably thought would be my favorite, but… Live And Let Die has not aged well.

I still like it, but doing a Blaxploitation Bond adventure — with the shoehorning of a twenty-minute version of Smokey and the Bandit into the middle– has to be one of the weirdest notions anyone had for a Bond movie. And Miss Seymour, especially, is not served well here. Pretty much the only one not made to look like a jerk in this is Geoffrey Holder.

Movie I am embarrassed I haven’t seen: Becoming Bond. Honestly, I had no idea Jane Seymour was even in this.

I’ll get around to it one of these days, I imagine.

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And there it is. Your mileage may vary. Feel free to share your own version in the comments if you got tagged with this thing in the last couple of weeks.

Back next week with something cool.

12 Comments

  1. Edo Bosnar

    Oh, man. This post just reminds me that there’s so many movies I (still) haven’t seen, which really brings my geek credentials in question. Case in point: I haven’t seen most of the Hammer films. Pirates of Blood River seems cool, too. And you reminded me that I’ve never seen Lassiter, either – back when it came out, I was a really, really big Magnum fan, but never saw it at the time (I was still too young to get into ‘R’-rated movies).
    Also, interesting that you linked to that post at 13th Dimension about the casting for a hypothetical Batman movie in the 1970s. That topic came up on the comments to an episode of the Treasury Cast (at the Fire & Water network) a few years ago – to reiterate my comment there, I always thought Peter Cushing would have been a perfect Ra’s, while Talia should have been played by none other than Jane Seymour.

  2. David107

    How annoying. Pirates Of Blood River was on British TV the day before this post, and isn’t scheduled for at least the next few weeks.

    Still, it was on a repertory movie and old TV shows channel, so it’ll come round again.

    Oh, and when I wrote “old TV shows” above I mean really old, as in stretching from the fifties (eg Hawkeye & The Last Of The Mohicans, Scotland Yard) through the sixties (eg Burkes Law, The Human Jungle) to the seventies (well, sometimes).

  3. M-Wolverine

    This could be a fun series of articles. But on to this one.

    Bruce Timm is the one of the animated series guys who is into all those S&M drawings and stuff, right? So his love of that Hammer might fit. This is the guy who thought Batgirl’s lack of agency in the Killing Joke just needed a sex scene with Batman to fix it.

    If you were doing it for Christopher Lee then skipping out on Return of the King worked out for you, because most of his scenes were cut if I remember right. They all appeared in the 35 hour home version, but not the theater.

    Though I do like the LotR, I tend to agree that the Hobbit being shorter (pun acknowledged but not intended) is a tighter read, and is more eventful than the actual trilogy. Which seems like a lot of build up to a flat ending. But I haven’t heard of Prydain before so I can see why they go with the well known, quality be damned.

    Somewhere, maybe on my old computer, I had a “Script treatment” in the loosest sense as it was just for me and not very professional, with no professional intent, for a Batman 5 that tried to see if the mess of Batman and Robin could be fixed. It involved Robin being Nightwing and estranged from Batman, and the only villain who could save it was Ra’s. And I can’t remember who I had as suggested casting, so it may be Mandela Effect, but I have to think it would be Christopher Lee. Not sure who was around at the time. I’m guessing I went a bit more ethnic for Talia.

    That photo alone has me wanting to check out Lassiter. That and maybe in objection to them making a Magnum PI remake. (Seriously, Magnum was Tom Selleck, not the other way around). But if we’re talking Jane Seymour guilty pleasures, I’ll go with Oh Heavenly Dog, cute enough Benji movie hampered by slumming Chevy Chase voice over. But it’s peak Seymour. And the combo does allow us a bubble bath scene.

  4. Rohmer has not been served well in adaptations (I’ve seen several). Though I used to have a great poster showing Christopher Lee as Fu Manchu with “Fu Manchu… For Mayor” under it (Paid for by the Citizens Committee to Elect Fu Manchu For Mayor!).
    Rewatching Live and Let Die a while back, I was amazed how utterly passive Seymour is. Other than warning Bond about Rosie, she basically follows along whichever guy has possession of her; as others have pointed out, she beds Bond because of a trick, rather than making a choice.
    But yes, Kotto is awesome. It’s a shame I’ve never managed to work “Names are for tombstones” into a conversation.
    I love Hell House (Somewhere in Time too) but at 5′ 2″ the big reveal that the ghost’s curse was being really, really short made me laugh last time I saw it.

  5. Jeff Nettleton

    Now I’ve got two movies I need to check out. I’m pretty up on my swashbucklers; so, I don’t know how Pirates of Blood River escaped me. Terror of the Tongs is right up my alley, too.

    For Christopher Lee:

    Movie I love-The Three Musketeers (and yes, I mean both 3 and 4 Musketeers, asa whole)-Lee is just great, as Rochefort and his duels with Michael York’s D’Artagnan are magnificent. His verbal sparring with Charlton heston and Faye Dunaway are also great. He also plays a great straight man to Spike Milligan, when he comes to arrest Monsieur Bonnacier.

    Movie I like-The Face of Fu Manchu (actually, this is pretty close to love). Yeah, not PC; but, I just love Lee as a megalomaniac and this is the best of the bunch, with Nigel Green as the only decent Nayland Smith. A bigger budget would have been nice and the weird 1920s/1960s mix (mostly, the women dressed in 60s fashions and the men in 1910s/20s fashions) is a bit wonky; but, it has a good plot and moves right along.

    Movie I hate- I tried sitting through The Return of Captain Invincible. Lee is the only decent thing in it; but, it’s not remotely funny or satirical. Alan Arkin did himself no favors here. His Clouseau was genius, by comparison (and I mostly enjoy Inspector Clouseau).

    Guilty Pleasure-I suppose the Fu Manchu films fall in here, as there is something decent in most (except the really crappy Jess Franco ones). Um, I’ll say Brides of Fu Manchu. It’s still pretty watchable and ups the skin content, though the plot goes off the rails. They really could have used a decent budget to bring some of the Fu Manchu monstrous creations to life.

    Movie that I am embarrassed to have never seen- well, you just gave me two: Pirates of Blood River and Terror of the Tongs.

    For Jane Seymour

    Movie I love-Lassiter. I missed it in theaters; but, saw it on Cinemax, not long after and loved it. It really is a great period film; but, what held it and High Road to China back was Raymond Chow. He was one of the big Honk kong producers; but, he wasn’t willing to compete on budget in the West and that hurt both films and also saddled them with more “tv actors” than film actors. They were good actors; but, Joe Regalbuto and Ed Lauter were guys you saw on every other tv show in the late 70s and 80s. Certainly, the reason for that was that they were good; but, it does make this feel more like a tv movie. Bob Hoskins helps it tremendously, as does Seymour, Warren Clark and Lauren Hutton. There really should have been a whole series of Lassiter films, if there was any justice. Seymour steals every scene she is in.

    Movie I like: It’s a tv movie; but, I am quite fond of The Scarlet Pimpernel, where she is Marguerite Blakeney, opposite Anthony Andrews as Sir Percy, aka The Scarlet Pimpernel (and Ian McKellen as Chauvelain). She’s just wonderful and it is a fine rendition of Baroness Orczy’s heroes.

    Movie I hate: I got nothing, as I haven’t seen her in a really bad film.

    Guilty Pleasure: Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger. Patrick Wayne is not a good Sinbad; but, Jane is good and so is former Dr Who, Patrick Troughton, as Melantheus. The story is pretty decent, though. It really needed the Survivor song, though. 😉

    Movie I am embarrassed I haven’t seen: SomeWhere in Time. Just never saw it.

    1. Edo Bosnar

      Haven’t seen it in ages, but I recall really liking High Road to China. And there’s nothing wrong with liking Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger – I loved it! (Although, like High Road, I haven’t seen it in ages…)

    2. M-Wolverine

      Alas, Sinbad was 5 years too early for Survivor’s Eye of the Tiger. Which almost sounds like a good column….what movies amazing didn’t have a song that should have gone with it. When I was younger, before I understood budgets, I never understood why The Final Countdown didn’t have The Final Countdown. And more recently how Pompeii didn’t have Pompeii in it.

      I don’t even feel guilty about liking Sinbad. Harryhausen effects are enough for me. And Jane’s got the pond bathing scene. What’s not to like? That may be the only of the classic Harryhausen films that I saw in the theater too.

    1. Jeff Nettleton

      She was tremendous in that and largely carries the production, as Timothy Bottoms was rather subdued and Bruce Boxleitner was still pretty green (though both have plenty of good moments in the production). Jane just chews everyone in her path up and spits them out.

      I’m relatively sure I saw one of her earliest appearances, in the British childrens tv series Here Come The Double Deckers. It was shown on Saturday morning, in the uS (NBC, I think) in the very early 70s and I used to watch it. For years, no one else seemed to remember it and I couldn’t remember the name; just that the kids had a double decker bus and a clubhouse, with a secret entrance through a fence. Turns out it was both things, as the bus is the clubhouse and it was in a junkyard, which they entered via a trapdoor in the fence. One of the kids was Peter Firth, who, as an adult, played the murdered political officer, in The Hunt For Red October; and, starred in the British tv series Spooks (aka MI-5, in the US). Seymour appears as Alice, when one of the cast has an Alice in Wonderland dream, after getting hit on the head. That was in 1970.

      1. I remember that show! I couldn’t tell you a thing about it except that it had a double-decker bus and English kids. I remember being surprised by the one black kid. I’d never seen a non-white person with an English accent, and was surprised to learn that there were people of color in what I thought was a super-white country.

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