Monday, June 15, 2015

Pain In The Neck

For having one of the least threatening character names in the extended Star Wars universe, Count Dooku should win some sort of prize. An additional award should go to Christopher Lee for bringing some galactic menace to this guy who sounds like he was imagined by some eight year-old Super Fan in a Starbust and Slurpee induced haze. "I know, let's call him 'Count Doo-Doo.' No wait. That would be too easy. How about 'Count Doo-Coo?'" Gales of derisive laughter.
Yes, that was screen legend and master thespian Christopher Lee wielding that light saber and creating a path for Anakin Skywalker to tumble on over to the Dark Side. Pardon me, Sir Christopher Lee, knighted back in 2009 for "services to Drama and Charity." This was long after I first took notice of Sir Chris. He was the heir apparent to Lugosi and Karloff. He played the monsters. His friend Peter Cushing was the monster maker of vampire hunter. Christopher Lee was the one making all those horrible gashes in ladies' necks and terrifying them wrapped in bandages or rising from the dead. He did most of this, from my perspective, in the pages of magazines. I was too young to rush out and take in the splashy, blood-soaked, cleavage enhanced films of the Hammer canon. But it didn't stop me from reading all about them. That is why, when the seventies rolled around and I was told that "The Man With The Golden Gun" would be portrayed by Sir Christopher, I made sure that I got in line even earlier than usual for this latest installment of the James Bond series. Francisco Scaramanga did not disappoint. He was not just your average evil genius, but a rival assassin to 007. Fascinating in spite of the presence of Herve Villechaize as his diminutive presence.
And that's the one that sticks with me. Even his appearance in the Star Wars saga and the Lord of the Rings trilogy couldn't keep me from remembering the slicked-back sneer of Scaramanga. Perhaps it was the flying car. Or maybe it was that looming presence that made him so very memorable. And now he is gone. The good news, for us fans, is that Christopher Lee demonstrated a proclivity for rising from the dead, but after ninety-three years and more than two hundred films, he could use the rest. Aloha, Sir Christopher Lee. You stomped and slunk and cast a scary shadow on the Terra.

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