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Christopher Lee has died at age 93. Farewell, Lord Summerisle, Scaramanga, Dracula......

Mr. Lee attended Eton and Wellington College, then joined the Royal Air Force, serving in intelligence and the Special Forces during World War II.

He had reached his full height, 6 feet 5 inches, as a boy. “I went through my school days in a constant state of embarrassment,” he recalled in “Tall, Dark and Gruesome.” His height proved to be a problem in his acting career as well.


It's emerged Sir Christopher died as he prepared to start filming for his latest movie, co-starring Uma Thurman. In one of his last interviews, he declared: “When I die, I want to die with my boots on.” He certainly stayed true to his word...

And farewell to a great Fagin. Ron Moody has died at age 91.

“Oliver!,” based on Dickens’s rags-to-riches tale of an orphan boy who escapes the hardscrabble life of the street, was adapted for the musical stage by Lionel Bart without many of the darker, more threatening elements of the 1830s novel. Mr. Moody’s Fagin, as a misguiding underworld mentor to the young hero, was delivered in that cheerier spirit. Instead of villainy, he projected curmudgeonliness; instead of wickedness, raffishness.

Both of them enjoyed long lives, fortunately.

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John Carpenter offered the role of Dr. Loomis in the original Halloween to Lee but he turned it down. Lee later told Carpenter that turning down the part of Dr. Loomis was one of the biggest career mistakes he ever made given how Halloween revitalized Donald Pleasance's career and gave him his own franchise. (Pleasance appeared in four more sequels and likely would have appeared in a fifth, if he hadn't died.)

Can't believe we've lost horror icons Lee and Betsy Palmer back-to-back.

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Lee did get in on two big franchises late in the game - I wouldn't be surprised if he made more money in the last ten years of his career than he did in the previous five decades, and well deserved too. He had quite a life. I still feel a bit strange - I realize he had to die eventually, but somehow I guess I always assumed he'd go on forever.

Loved his Rochefort, too.

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Everyone knows the major work he did: Dracula (1958), Rochefort in The Three Musketeers (1973) and The Four Musketeers (1974), Lord Summerisle in The Wicker Man (1973), Scaramanga in The Man with the Golden Gun (1974), the Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001, 2002, 2003), two Star Wars movies (2002, 2005) and 5 Tim Burton movies.

But here are some of my favorite "lesser" Lee movies:

1) The Devil Rides Out (1968) -- The rare Lee film where he played the hero, this is a highly entertaining depiction of a fight between good and evil.

2) Dracula A.D. 1972 (1972) and The Satanic Rites of Dracula (1973) -- If you can get past the 70s hair/clothes/music in these two Dracula offerings, which were set in then-modern day London, these movies are a lot of fun in a B-movie kind of way. (They actually function as one movie, as the second movie picks up where the first one leaves off.) Both movies also feature Peter Cushing. Stephanie Beacham (in A.D. 1972) and Joanna Lumley (in Satanic Rites) are also along for the supernatural fun.

3) Horror Express (1973) -- Lee, Cushing and a pre-Kojak Telly Savalas are all on-board the Trans-Siberian Express for this low-budget -- but highly entertaining -- horror movie.

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The Devil Rides Out is easily one of Hammer's best. I also think Lee is great in The Mummy.

Lee was particularly eager to do The Wicker Man because he was tiring of wading in fake blood, and he worked on the film without pay. (He was also instrumental in getting The Devil Rides Out made.) In the end The Wicker Man is really Edward Woodward's movie, but Lee is still very good in it, probably his best performance. Both men considered it to be their best film. Interesting that both Woodward and Lee were also good singers.

I didn't learn until the obits came out that Lee had played Jinnah in a biopic of the same name. Not a piece of casting that leaps immediately to mind. Lee was very proud of his performance in it, considering it his best effort.

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Some backstory on Ron Moody and his most famous role. Apparently his view of the kids in the cast was not all that far from Fagin's. :)

His portrayal of Fagin was also helped by his rewriting of his spoken lines. He was determined to replace ‘the wash of watered-down cockney modernity’ favoured by Bart and return to the sinister floweriness of Dickens’ original dialogue.

‘In the musical, lines like “How d’ya do?” presumed to replace “I hope I shall have the honour of your intimate acquaintance”, so I quietly put Dickens back into my script,’ he admitted.

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