The real Christopher Lee – tall, dark and an airhead!

Having recently read Phil Baker’s The Devil Is A Gentleman: The Life and Times of Dennis Wheatley, I was moved to revisit the Hammer film adaptations of Wheatley’s novels – The Devil Rides Out (Terence Fisher, 1968) and To The Devil A Daughter (Peter Sykes, 1976), both of which ‘starred’ pseudo-aristocratic plonker Christopher Lee. The first flick is an ultra-conservative thriller with some occult trimmings that looks absolutely pathetic when compared to what was happening in horror cinema at the time. It is of the same vintage as early post-modern classics like Succubus (Jess Franco, 1967), Rape of the Vampire (Jean Rollin, 1968) and Night of the Living Dead (George A Romero, 1968), but looks positively antediluvian in comparison.

With To The Devil A Daughter, Hammer finally caught up with what had been happening cinematically in the late-sixties; they may have been a decade behind the times but the result was still a groove sensation! Just before giving up the ghost, Hammer had finally made a film that rather than being plot driven was based around atmospherics and didn’t rely on a stupid climactic end scene to ‘please’ its audience. There was even some full frontal nudity, albeit very brief . Being arch-reactionaries (and literal Tory party supporters from over-privileged backgrounds) with absolutely no sense of taste or style, Lee and his chum Wheatley loved The Devil Rides Out and disliked the infinitely superior To The Devil A Daughter (which took enormous and much needed liberties with the half-baked novel on which it was based).

Lee’s contributions to the featurette accompanying To The Devil A Daughter in The Hammer Collection DVD box set, reveal him to be an unbelievably vain and pretentious twit. He has a movie career simply because he is tall and can look menacing (he is chiefly famous for his ‘non-human’ roles as Frankenstein’s monster and the ‘undead’ Dracula), few people beyond Lee himself could possibly suffer from the delusion that he can act. Despite this, he witters on about how his Wheatley movies fulfilled the serious function of warning the public of the dangers of the occult. Lee himself is enough of a half-wit to take ‘black magic’ and related hucksterism seriously. It should go without saying that the main danger ‘black magicians’ pose to the wider public is that their attempts to part fools from their money tend to be so ham-fisted that they sometimes make people complacent about the ability of more sophisticated con artists to pull a fast one.

Having had the misfortune to see Lee’s brainless performance on the featurette accompanying one of his best films (although it isn’t quite up there with Beat Girl,  directed by Edmond T. Gréville in 1959), I found myself thinking that if this B-movie blockhead really wishes to distance himself from the villains he’s portrayed onscreen, then he really ought to stop behaving like one of the ‘undead’. I therefore leave him and you with the following question to ponder: Christopher Lee, why aren’t you dead? Isn’t it about time he did himself the huge favour of popping his clogs?

And while you’re at it don’t forget to check – www.stewarthomesociety.org – you know it makes (no) sense!

About mistertrippy

Stewart Home was born in south London in 1962. His mother Julia Callan-Thompson was a showgirl and club hostess. He has never held down a regular job for more than a few months at a time. On those rare occasions when he's been forced to work, Home has taken employment as a factory labourer, agricultural labourer, shop assistant, office clerk and art class model. Deciding he didn't like working in factories as a teenager, Home pursued cultural and political interests, writing many books and participating in even more gallery exhibitions.
This entry was posted in film and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

57 thoughts on “The real Christopher Lee – tall, dark and an airhead!

  1. Zen Master K says:

    Why not write about decent actors called Lee like Bruce Lee or Lee Marvin? Marvin publicly opposed the Vietnam war and supported gay rights. And Bruce Lee’s success did more to combat certain strands of Orientalism in the early/mid-seventies than almost anything else! They both rock!

  2. Darren Banks says:

    what about the wicker man ? he looked great in a wig

  3. Adrian Smith says:

    friends that have met Mr Lee concur with your assessment Stewart! Pompous and arrogant to a tee

  4. Paris Hilton says:

    Christopher Lee is the kind of airhead who gives ordinary airheads like me a bad name!

  5. Simon says:

    …Robert Pattison’s inspiration, I venture.

  6. The Wicker Man was a right dog’s dinner of a film. I’m sure there were loads of good British actors they could have given that role to. Lee had all the on-screen presence of a plank of wood. And the musical score sucks seven different shades of shite. At the time there were far better things being aired on TV in the form of ‘Armchair Thriller’. Anyone remember them?

  7. Bill Dew says:

    Hhhmmm. Agreed that Lee has always come across as the thespian equivalent of Freddie Forsyth, but I’d assumed that his evolution as a ‘serious’ actor was hampered by the choice of roles offered to him. I, too, would cite The Wicker Man as a rare, ‘intelligent’ blip, in providing a multi-dimensional role which he clearly relished and excelled in…

    I do think that UK horror of the late 60s/early70s was deeply reactionary, and emblematic of our profound unease with the age of promiscuity and greater license. ‘The kids’ had to be shown to suffer for their newly granted freedoms….

  8. George Angus says:

    Most excellent – he wasnt acting in the Wicker Man – that is really him and his actual political philosophy, apart from offing the pigs obviously.

  9. Anne Pigalle says:

    and sexy…never under estimate…

  10. Q: Why did Christopher Lee take a ladder to the pub?

    A: Because he heard the drinks were on the house that night.

    I ain’t lying!

  11. Redd Foxx says:

    Christopher Lee is bored so he decides to do something wild, something he hasn’t done before, so he rents his first X-rated adult video.

    Lee goes to the video store and, after looking around for a while, selects a title that sounds stimulating.

    He drives home, opens a bottle of wine, and since his wife is away he slips into her nightie. Finally he puts the tape in the VCR. To Lee’s disappointment, there’s nothing but static on the screen, so he calls the video store to complain.

    “I just rented an adult movie from you and there’s nothing but static on the tape.”

    “Sorry about that, sir,” says the shop assistant. “We’ve had problems with some of those X-rated tapes. Which title did you rent?”

    “It’s called ‘Head Cleaner’.”

    I ain’t lying!

  12. A noted psychiatrist was a guest at a gathering for airheads where his host Christopher Lee broached a subject with which the doctor was quite at ease.

    “Would you mind telling me, Doctor,” Lee asked, “how you detect a mental deficiency in somebody who appears completely normal?”

    “That’s easy,” the shrink replied. “You ask them a simple question which everyone should be able to answer with no trouble. If they hesitate, that puts you on the right track.”

    “What sort of question would you ask, Doctor?” Lee enquired.

    “Well, I might ask, “During his life, Captain Cook made three trips around the world and died during one of them. Which one?'”

    Christopher Lee thought for a moment, then said with a nervous laugh – “You wouldn’t happen to have another example would you? I must confess I don’t know much about history.”

    I ain’t lying!

  13. Skillet: What does Christopher Lee say when a woman blows in his ear?

    Leroy: Thanks for the refill!

    We ain’t lying!

  14. Christopher Lee called up British Airways and asked, “How long are your flights from London to Copenhagen?”

    The agent answered, “just a minute.”

    At which, Christopher Lee thanked him and hung up.

  15. Bill Cosby says:

    Q: What did Christopher Lee say to the buxom waitress (after reading her name tag) when he went for lunch in a restaurant?

    A: “‘Debbie’…that’s cute. What did you name the other one?”

  16. So how about we run a book on who’s going to croak in 2010 and see what the odds for Christopher Lee are?

  17. fiona says:

    Airhead? Isn’t that a bit final? Are you saying that it is possible to put someone-anyone- in one permanent camp forever- ie- clever or stupid? airhead or brainbox? You decide, I guess.

  18. Marabas has an unparalleled grasp of esoteric methods worldwide but he is not a god – he cannot indemnify customers from risk. Only you know your exact circumstances, your medical history, state of health and the progression of the problem so far. Only you can judge whether it is in your interests to apply magic in your life. If you ask us how a magician might resolve a problem then Marabas will tell you but in our eyes magic is a force used to modify the course of destiny and can cause peripheral changes which are not anticipated therefore all magical operations are by qualification inherently experimental. Our products are genuine, contain proper materials and most importantly are designed with adept knowledge of magical method. You cannot get a better chance of successfully experimenting with magic but be under no illusion – it is an experiment undertaken entirely at your own risk.

  19. Russell loses his identity… and received a ‘Brand’ new one!

    Edgy comedian Russell Brand today revealed his anxiety at being the victim of identity theft. The fame-hungry celeb announced that being in the limelight had made him a prime target.

    The controversial cockney comic (34) spoke of how his ubiquity had brought him riches, notoriety, sex on tap and no small amount of grief, when he discovered that impostors were posing as him on social networking sites and various Internet blogs.

    ‘It’s one thing to get slated by the critics,’ he complained, ‘but entirely another to find that you identity has been stolen. It’s quite unnerving, really.’

    Funnyman Band, a self-professed sex addict, is no stranger to strife, with his near-the-knuckle gags and pranks – notably his well-documented calls to Fawlty Towers actor Andrew Sachs – drawing heavy criticism in the media and costing him his radio show.

    ‘I don’t mind people talking about me,’ he remarked, ‘in fact I love it. as Oscar Wilde said, the only thing worse than people talking about you is people not talking about you.

    ‘It’s good for business and good for my profile. It’s what I do: I court controversy, because I’m edgy, a bit risky, y’know? But I have a solid fanbase who show their support and that keeps me going in difficult times. Especially when I get to shag young groupies.’

    Brand went on to complain, however, that people posing as him, for reasons that aren’t always entirely clear, was taking it a bit far.

    ‘It’s a bit beyond a joke when people are going round pretending to be me and saying things that people might think are actually me saying them when it isn’t. They’re probably just jealous of my fame and sex appal, but the trouble is, some of the postings make me look like a complete knob-end.’

  20. Alan Whicker says:

    Me: What is the difference between ignorance and apathy?

    Christopher Lee: I don’t know, and I don’t care!

  21. Lynn Barber says:

    I would like to remind certain people who may be reading this that airheads have feelings too and your cruel jokes don’t always go over their heads…

  22. Jethro says:

    When Christopher Lee was a teenager attending the posh Wellington public school he was seen by his fellow pupils eating a pound note. They gatthered around him and asked him why he was chewing on currency, he replied: “My mother gave it to me saying it was my lunch money.”

  23. Q: Why did Christopher Lee never use the water skis he was given as a present?

    A: He wasn’t able to find a sloping lake!

  24. Craig Egan says:

    Christopher Lee got really excited when he finished a jigsaw puzzle in only 6 months, because on the box it said ‘From 2-4 years’.

  25. Wendy Harmer says:

    Q: What’s the difference between Christopher Lee and a solar powered calculator?

    A: Christopher Lee works in the dark!

  26. Denise Scott says:

    Did you hear about the time Christopher Lee got mad at his wife and tried to blow up her car? He gave up after he burned his lips on the tailpipe!

  27. Xavier Susai says:

    Do you know why Christopher Lee moved house? He heard that 80% of all accidents occur in the home!

  28. Christopher Lee went to a restaurant and ordered a pizza. The waitress asked if she should cut it into 6 or 12 pieces? Lee replied he wanted it cut it into 6 pieces because he wasn’t hungry enough to eat 12 slices of pizza.

  29. Q: Why is Christopher Lee’s brain the size of a pea in the morning?

    A: It swells at night.

  30. Did you hear about the time a film director asked Christopher Lee to shoot an arrow into the air? He missed.

  31. Judith Lucy says:

    Q: When is it legal to shoot Chirstopher Lee in the head?

    A: When you have a tire pump to reinflate it!

  32. Q: What did Christopher Lee name his pet zebra?

    A: Spot.

  33. Did you hear about the time Christopher Lee went skydiving? He missed the Earth!

  34. Tom Gleeson says:

    Q: Why did Christopher Lee drive into the ditch?

    A: To turn the blinker off.

  35. Jimeoin says:

    Q: Why did Christopher Lee tip-toe past the medicine cabinet?

    A: So he wouldn’t wake up the sleeping pills.

  36. Q: Why does Christopher Lee keep a coat hanger on the back seat of his car?

    A: In case he locks the keys inside the vehicle.

  37. Q: Why does Christopher Lee refuse to use elevators in hotels?

    A: In case he gets lost on his way up.

  38. fiona says:

    ahem (no, it’s not me, of course)

  39. oldrope says:

    Sounds like Lee is a bit of a racist, if he hates ‘black magicians’ so much….

  40. Weakest Link excerpts:

    QUERANT: Who built St Paul’s Cathedral – Sir Christopher – ?
    LEE: Robin

    QUERANT: What is the capital of India?
    LEE: Asia

    QUERANT: A ‘baker’s dozen’ refers to which number?
    LEE: One

    QUERANT: An Aberdeen Angus is a breed of which animal?
    LEE: A man

    QUERANT: Most record players come with standard RPM speeds of 33, and – ?
    LEE: …six thousand?

  41. kjlkh says:

    Horror is by definition about fear of the ‘other’ and as such has been the perfect vehicle to project paranoic fantasy and the resultant conservative morality on a mass scale – hence the success of Bram Stoker’s Dracula at the time of migration of Ashkenazi Jewish population from Eastern Europe into East London. The zombie of course is metaphoric of the lumpen proletariat which is why the end of oppression necessitates the reintegration of the living and the dead. One way in which (male) revolutionaries might rediscover the feminine is by thinking through what it means to be dead. Table tapping and ouija boards reinforce the hegemony of the reigning society by creating an imaginary world that compensates us for the deficiencies of the one we live in. It has been claimed that dozens of men paid a mortuary attendant to have sex with Marilyn Monroe’s corpse. Sex with the dead should be a gift but under capitalism it is often reduced to the commodity form and the cash nexus. In its drive to prolong life at any cost, the medical establishment encourages the living to fill in forms in which they leave their bodies for the purpose of organ transplants once they are dead.
    Revolutionaries can throw the humanitarian pretences of the overdeveloped world into total contradiction by leaving their bodies for sexual experimentation. It’s time to storm the cemeteries and free the dead. The communist project will both live on and live out its death to the revolutionary cry of ‘well dug old mole!’

  42. KW says:

    What with all the Christopher Lee jokes, it may have escaped some of you that the man can speak about 5-7 languages among other achievements, so whatever you may think about his personality his intelligence cannot be denied.

    Also, although he’s been in many lousy movies and has often been given thankless roles, he’s always charismatic and makes the best of any part. When given something better to act out can be truly very good.

  43. Christopher Lee walks into a shop, buys a paper and tells the man to keep the change. As Lee leaves, the man says, “Well, what a nice chap. I guess that’s what actually counts in life.”

  44. mistertrippy says:

    Projecting an image as a ‘nice chap’ is exactly what you’d expect from a grasping and very vocal supporter of the Tory party like Christopher Lee. This is not how hardline conservatives with posh backgrounds really behave, and so it is image and not reality. The other thing about Lee is he really can’t act – he does menace okay standing absolutely still but the minute he opens his mouth or moves even very slightly he just comes across like an idiot. Actually even his standing still menace doesn’t work once you realise what a jerk he is; but it worked for me as a kid when I’d only seen stills and and not the films – but once I’d seen Lee failing to act he looked like a moron even when he was standing still. It isn’t just about roles – both Vincent Price and Peter Cushing (for example) really could act and when you watch them you can see that, and Lee really can’t. If it wasn’t for his family background and connections, then Lee would never have had a career as an ‘actor’. He is a classic example of what is wrong with this society, and that’s why he’s such a vocal supporter of the Tories, because they defend the privileges that he so obviously doesn’t deserve.

  45. eddiemsn53 says:

    is it good mocking and slating others behind they,re backs? you all need to look at your sad,childish,selves b4 passing comments like these. get real!

  46. mistertrippy says:

    Why don’t you get real and THINK before typing the first stupid comment that comes into your head? This has not been done behind anyone’s back, since anyone who can access the internet can look at it – in other words it is completely public, and that is in fact the opposite of doing something behind someone’s back. It is also exactly what talentless right-wing jerks like Christopher Lee deserve.

  47. eddiemsn53 says:

    did you inform mr lee that you were going to gibber about him before the comments on this site spewed fourth? if you did,nt,then it was behind his back. i think your jealous of the man, fool!