#CHRISTOPHERLEE SATURDAY! This text is taken from part if an interview Christopher Lee did on the BBC tv show 'Wogan' back in 1985. It must have been terribly frustrating for him to, always have to retread this whole spiel about HIS versatilely and volume of work, that had little or nothing in connection with the fantasy genre .. Over at the FACEBOOK PCASUK FAN PAGE wer'e asking, HOW versatile do you think Christopher Lee was on screen? What's your fav non-fantasy Christopher Lee role???
YOU COULDN'T WALK AWAY. My Mum and Gran were huge fans too, 'It's Freddie JUNUCE!' she would say. My mother was brought up in the South Wales valleys and had a habit of pronouncing certain words, names, as a somewhat strange 'Hilda Baker' wrapped and tongue twisting, weird mangled malapropisms...'Jun....uce!' 'Yes!' I would smile and agree .'With a surname like that, he's obviously Welsh!', she would gleam with pride. He wasn't, but I wouldn't dream of breaking the spell for her.
WE HAD ALL SEEN JONES, in an ITV play version of 'Sweeney Todd' back in 1970. We were terrified. But something I noticed, far more than the tension or the murders..was his delivery. His words, his prosody! Next time I saw him was in Cushing's 'Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed' . . again there it was. The pauses, the rhythm. It was tense and it and he pulled you in with each pause.
WHAT WAS HE GOING TO SAY NEXT? I don't think Freddie Jones actually was capable of being dull. Listen and watch his performance as Prof Professor Julian Keeley, with Peter Cushing in Christopher Lee's last Hammer Dracula film, 'The Satanic Rites of Dracula'. It's a master-class in 'How to terrify an audience, with no props, masks or make-up and yet a full tool kit of quivers, nuances and dialogue super charged with, suggestion!
FIND YOURSELF, five films or tv shows.. and you'll see, when he speaks, everyone is listening. I watched 'Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed' in a midnight double bill cinema, packed to the gills, with drunks, dribbling into free fall and slopping into back row seats just after closing time. Del Boy's with dates and 'men with dirty-macs'. Nearly all were diving into candy's, crisps, cans, scraping and trawling the bottoms of slimy twin ice cream tubs while sucking to collapse, their cardboard cartons of Kiora. It was annoying and noisy...except when Freddie was on the screen. Then, it went quiet and everyone tuned in . .
WE COULD POUR over the many, many gold star roles and others that do more than just twinkle, when the rest of the cast and film, were not even sparkles, in Jones' beady-eye😚 ! I wish I had seen Jones in Ronald Harwood’s affectionate near-portrait of Sir Donald Wolfit in 'The Dresser' (1980), an old ham called “Sir” who faces disaster in the mirror while preparing to play King Lear. It was a huge success. You can see how he filled that role, that theatre. It is said, 'After his 1980 run, no following actor, in The Dresser – Albert Finney in the 1983 film, Anthony Hopkins on television in 2015, nor Ken Stott in the West End in 2016 – matched the rumbling thunder of Jones in Manchester and subsequently at the Queen’s in London!' Sadly, I didn't see it and we have to make do with snippets and a radio version on YouTube.
BETTER THAN NOTHING.😕😏 He was certainly better than most gave him credit for. But there's gems to find, for sure! Quality, if not quantity. And for that we say thank you, with bended knee.
Happy Birthday, Freddie Jones. He once said, ' “My life springs from my wife, my family, my work and my whisky.” . . Well, in remembering, we'll celebrate and certainly toast to that - Marcus Brooks