Christopher Lee RIP

Christopher LeeTomorrow, I’ll have a little bit to say about Ornette Coleman. But I wanted to take a moment to note that Christopher Lee has died. It was announced today, but he died last Sunday. Most people know him for the part of Dracula in a series of films, starting with the great 1958 film, Dracula. But that is surprisingly not the part I most associate him with. I associate him with the part of Mycroft Holmes in The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes. I went through a period when I watched that film a lot. And I still think it is a great film — way underrated. That film so perfectly captures the power dynamic between Mycroft and Sherlock. And, as is totally appropriate, Lee steals the scenes he’s in.

I saw an interview (probably on the DVD). In it, Lee discussed working on the film with Billy Wilder. He said that Wilder never made any reference to Lee’s work as Dracula. But they were doing a night shoot, and the two of them were standing together. A cloud of bats flew overhead. Wilder looked sideways at him and grinned. Lee was charmed by this moment with Wilder, and I was charmed by Lee relating it.

I’ve quite enjoyed Christopher Lee in everything he did. He was a great and varied actor. And it was fun watching him show up in so many cool roles into his 90s. Even in poor films like Dark Shadows and The Colour of Magic, he added dignity and style. I am actually sad that I won’t be seeing him pop up in new films. But there are almost 300 screen credits for him, and that isn’t including multiple hits on television series. I wish him well in the undiscovered country.

Here he is as Mycroft:

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