RECENT POST FROM THE BLACK BOX CLUB

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

RAISING HAIR PROBLEMS! THE CHANGING FACE AND HAIR OF COUNT DRACULA : CHRISTOPHER LEE :


Hair and actors, for men particularly, can be a sensitive subject. Thinning hairlines for some, signaled the beginning of a life tied to hiding their thinning locks, with endless spraying and careful combing or gluing down of hair pieces and relying on what were sometimes not the most convincing of toupees. Yul Brynner celebrated, his head minus hair, it was never a problem. Telly Savalas too, when he got fed up with combing-over the last strands, took to the shaver, and whipped, what he had been holding onto, off ...and never looked back. But for many actors, they believed not having a full head of hair, lessened your chances in casting....


For the majority of his film roles, from Hammer's Hound of the Baskervilles onwards in 1959, Lee wore pieces, with the exception of Mycroft Holmes in 'The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes' (1970) here Lee, for the only time, went completely  'sans toupee'! When this brave, but strange decision drew a little too much attention, Lee explained it away, as an act of dedication to playing the role and that he had simply shaved his head!  But all these wigs he wore, also explains why he had such a weird hair line and bouffant top in 'Risen From the Grave'...and a really good wig in AD 1972 and Satanic Rites...and I think more than one in Dracula 58, in the first close up shot where he welcomes Harker, the hairpiece looks a lot smaller, than in the rest of the film...and in Darkness it had less widows peak. Taste the Blood was maybe too full and his own hair sometimes flopped over his ears, Scars of... was a good one!



With many actors, and 'the advancement of the years', very few with long careers, ever get away without some help from a weave or wig. Think Humphrey Bogart, David Niven, John Wayne, all piece wearers on and off screen. To be fair, I don't think this is only or just about vanity. In Christopher Lee's case, early hair thinning, caused a problem and throughout his career, he had to present himself as the person / actor that his audiences recognised. Without his hair, he wasn't the Christopher Lee the public knew. He was Christopher Lee without hair.


Peter Cushing and Vincent Price, were lucky to have 'some' there. In later years, Cushing would whip his into, what could be quite a complicated quiff, that must have been held together with a lot of hairspray... but at least he didn't have to sit for an extra hour while they glued the webbing and pinned a 'rug' down. I think when he first appeared without it, around 1974 and the time of the productions of Shatter, THE UNCANNY, , The New Avengers... he must have been reviled to be finished with it, having worn toupee and weaves since around 1967...


If you look at some of Cushing's jottings and requests on his scripts, you see his recommendations for particular hair pieces that he had worn in previous productions. Film production companies rarely stocked wigs, depending on the budget, make up men or hairdressers/ wig makers would make pieces to order or from stock, they would be hired. For many years, Cushing had his own personal hair piece, which he might wear in a film and in public. You might remember, when Cushing was pounced on by Michael Aspel for his appearance on This Is Your Life in 1990, he is heard to say, 'It's just as well, I wore my toupee today, isn't?'


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THE STORY BEHIND ONE OF THE MOST ICONIC SCENES IN HAMMER FILMS HISTORY!

Ask any Hammer film fan, what would be their favourite top three scenes above all others in the Hammer catalog, and chances are the closing moments of Hammer's 1958, Dracula / Horror of Dracula. The build up to the scene, with Christopher Lee's Dracula being pursued by Cushing Van Helsing, is topped off with a dramatic 'face to face' battle, with Van Helsing finally cornering the Count and pushing him into the deadly sunlight, with an improvised crucifix, made from two crossed candle sticks. A move that wasn't in the script, but suggested by Peter Cushing. Here in Cushing's own words, is the story behind one the most iconic scenes in horror film history and for the first time, we present the scene that inflenced Cushing and how it looked in the Hammer films classic!


"In the original script Van Helsing was sort of like a salesman for crucifixes. He was pulling them out of every pocket. He was giving them to children to protect themselves, and putting them in coffins and so on. At the end of the film, he pulled out another one, so I asked if we couldn't do something exciting instead."


"I remembered seeing a film years ago called Berkeley Square in which Leslie Howard was thought of as being the Devil by this frightened little man who suddenly grabbed two big candlesticks and made a sign of the cross with them. I remembered that this had impressed me enormously. I suggested the run along the refectory table to jump onto the curtains and hit Dracula square in the
face with the sunlight."

The Scene From BERKELEY SQUARE
That Peter Cushing Remembered!

video


"He would, of course, be trapped. Then I could come along like a hero, grab the two candlesticks and make the cross with them in his face. They agreed. Originally the candelabra they had were the type with four candles on each base. You could tell what I was doing, but it didn't look like a cross, but they changed to the ones you see in the film. At least it wasn't another crucifix coming out of my pockets!"



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Ask any Hammer film fan, what would be their favourite top three scenes above all others in the Hammer catalog, and chances are the closing moments of Hammer's 1958, Dracula / Horror of Dracula. The build up to the scene, with Christopher Lee's Dracula being pursued by Cushing Van Helsing, is topped off with a dramatic 'face to face' battle, with Van Helsing finally cornering the Count and pushing him into the deadly sunlight, with an improvised crucifix, made from two crossed candle sticks. A move that wasn't in the script, but suggested by Peter Cushing. Here in Cushing's own words, is the story behind one the most iconic scenes in horror film history and for the first time, we present the scene that inflenced Cushing and how it looked in the Hammer films classic! - See more at: http://petercushingblog.blogspot.co.uk/2015/09/the-story-behind-one-of-most-iconic.html#sthash.63YNbe6S.dpuf
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