My 12 Favorite Christopher Lee Performances

I’m still in awe that Christopher Lee turned 90 and is still very much active in film and life.  His career is extraordinary.  Along with Bela Lugosi, Peter Cushing, Peter Lorre, Bogie, Toshiro Mifune and a hand-full of others he is my all-time favorite actor.   Most people of course equate Lee to the villainous roles, where he is masterful, but there are plenty of other performances worth remembering.  Here is my random list of 12 favorite Christopher Lee performances.

  • As artist Georges Seurat, in John Huston’s Moulin Rouge (1952). Lee has a small uncredited role, but when he’s there he commands the scene. This film is Jose Ferrer’s vehicle all the way as Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Lee is good as an aristocrat!  Trivia: Peter Cushing also appears in this film!
  • As book seller Monsieur Labisse in Hugo (2011).  Lee nearly stole the show.
  • As Saruman in The Lord of the Rings films.  
  • As Count Dooku in the crappy new Star Wars films.  I generally hated these films, but Lee stood out as a Sith Lord.
  • As Dracula (esp. in Horror of Dracula, 1958). Lee’s defining role.  He was ominous as a 6’5 vampire.
  • As Francisco Scaramanga in The Man with the Golden Gun (1974).  I wish he could’ve been pitted vs. Connery.  Along with Robert Shaw as Grant (From Russia with Love), Lee is my favorite Bond villain.
  • As an aging Sherlock Holmes in Incident at Victoria Falls (1992).  I also like him in Billy Wilder’s The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970), as Sherlock’s brother Mycroft.
  • As Lord Summerisle in The Wicker Man (1973).  Lee has remarked on several occasions that he liked this role. It shows.  I also like him in Horror Hotel as an satanic professor.
  • As Duc de Richleau in The Devil Rides Out (1968).  Lee plays the sympathetic part rather than the villain!
  • As Prof. Alexander Saxton in Horror Express (1972). Lee and Cushing were wonderful together.  This was the last great pairing of the two (of the later films).
  • As the nefarious Dr. Fu Manchu (esp. The Face of Fu Manchu, 1965).  I might like Lee a tad bit more than Karloff as Fu Manchu.
  • As Gregor the lion tamer in Psycho-Circus (1966).  This film is under-rated.  Lee totally carries the flick as an evil lion tamer with a hidden past.
  • As Rasputin: The Mad Monk (1966).  Probably Lee’s most unbridled performance.

Ooops, that’s 13.  I could go on about Lee forever.  What a career.

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