Category Archives: Christopher Lee

The heist always goes wrong, part 3: 10 of the best heist films you’ve never seen

payroll-1961As readers of this site know, I love a good heist film, the ingenuity of their plots and the variations they come in, whether it be the all star team assembled for the job of a life time or a group of desperate men and women trying for one last big score.

Everyone can name their favourite heist films and, for the most part, it is usually the big name titles such as The Asphalt Jungle (1950), The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973) and the French classic, Rififi (1955). Indeed, I listed these and many other well know heist movies in previous posts on this site, ‘The heist always goes wrong, part 1: ten of the best heist movies ever made’ and ‘The heist always goes wrong, part 2: reader picks and other favourite heist movies’.

But what about the lessor known heist films that are great but which nobody knows about?

To celebrate the release of my second crime novel, Gunshine State, I have compiled the following list of the 10 best heist films you’ve never seen.

operation-amsterdam-poster

Operation Amsterdam (1959)

Operation Amsterdam functions as both a war and a heist film. Peter Finch plays Jan Smit, a British intelligence officer ordered to infiltrate the city of Amsterdam, which is on the verge of being overrun by invading German forces, and prevent the city’s diamond reserves from falling into Nazi hands.… Read more

The Curse of Frankenstein

The-Curse-of-Frankenstein-1957-posterThe death in June of Christopher Lee spurred me chase up his remaining films I haven’t seen. One of these was The Curse of Frankenstein, the 1957 film credited with starting Hammer’s wave of horror film production which lasted until To the Devil a Daughter in 1976.

Around about the same time, I received a review copy of a book of the same name, part of the Devil’s Advocates series devoted to examining classics of horror cinema. The Curse of Frankenstein, by Marcus K Harmes, a lecturerer at the University of Southern Queensland, is recommended reading for anyone interested in the history of Hammer films and British horror cinema.

The film begins with a priest visiting Baron Victor Frankenstein (Peter Cushing) in the cell where the scientist is waiting to be guillotined for his crimes. Via flashbacks, director Terence Fisher establishes the Baron as a brilliant young man who, with the help of his tutor, Paul Krempe (Robert Urquhart), begins a series of experiments aimed at restoring life to dead tissue. They successfully bring a dead puppy back to life. Krempe wants to halt the experiments there, but Frankenstein has bigger plans. He wants to bring dead human flesh to life and steals body parts, including the brain of an eminent scientist who the Baron invites to dinner at his mansion and casually murders, to make the creature, played by Lee.… Read more

Pulp Friday: Christopher Lee's "X" Certificate

LeeI’ve been holding onto this gem of a horror anthology for a while now with the intention of eventually posting it as one of my Pulp Friday offerings. The death last week of the great Christopher Lee makes this an opportune time to share it.

Christopher Lee’s “X” Certificate was published by Star Books in 1975. The book includes an introduction by the late actor, although it’s doubtful Lee had anything to do with the anthology, which includes stories by Fritz Leiber, Robert Bloch, Richard Matheson, Robert E Howard and Bram Stoker. I’d be surprised if he even knew it existed.

As pulp fiction aficionados will be aware, numerous anthologies like this appeared in the late sixties and seventies, under the imprimatur of well known personalities involved in suspense and horror film, such as Alfred Hitchcock and French director, Roger Vadim.

The cover image may be familiar to fans of Jame Bond movies. It’s from the 1974 film, The Man With the Golden Gun, in which Lee played the hitman, Francisco Scaramanga.

Saturday nights in the den with Christopher Lee

280I know it’s become common to note the passing of every sixties and seventies actor & actress. Social media lights up like a Christmas tree at the death of the smallest character actor from the rarest cult cult film. Such is the power of nostalgia.

But I’m genuinely saddened by the death of Christopher Lee. Given he was 93 years of age, it is no surprise, but somehow it felt like he would be around forever.

Lee has been a dominant film figure for me since my early teens. I remember many Saturday nights when my parents dragged me to some long, boozy dinner party they were attending. I would always be placed in the den or rumpus room and left to my own devices in front of the television until late at night. There was usually a horror movie on. More often than not it had Christopher Lee in it. I wasn’t much of a film connoisseur. Who is when they are 13 years old? But there was something about this tall, imposing, deep voiced man that commanded my attention. Like one of the young maidens he frequently sunk his teeth into, I was totally in his sway. Those early Christopher Lee horror films had a profound impact on me, on a cinematic par to the first time I watched Bogart in The Big Sleep or my first viewing of John Boorman’s 1967 classic, Point Blank.… Read more