Happy Birthday Vincent Price! – Here Are His Ten Best Films

Born in St. Louis on Might 27, 1911, iconic actor Vincent Worth retained a particular fondness for his hometown, and that love was reciprocated with Vincentennial, a celebration of his 100th birthday in his hometown again in Might of 2011 (for abstract of all the Vincentennial activities go HERE).


In 2011, we asked Vincent Worth’s daughter, Victoria Worth, to put in writing a testimonial about her well-known father toasting him on the centennial of his start, and here’s what she wrote:

Once I was a bit woman, I believed that to return from St. Louis made you a member of a really fascinating membership.

I obtained this impression because every time my dad met somebody from his hometown, he greeted him or her as though he had just discovered a long-lost good friend. Immediately they might talk about the place that they had “gone to school,” which I later discovered didn’t imply school, as it did all over the place else in America, however moderately highschool. They might then speak about all of the places they liked – Forest Park, the Muny, the St. Louis Artwork Museum, the Arch, Cahokia Mounds, the Mississippi – and, lastly, in fact, each would wax nostalgic, for what seemed an inordinately very long time, concerning the food! When the reminiscences got here to end, they might half, associates for life. And all as a result of they each got here from St. Louis.

Rising up in Los Angeles, nobody – least of all me – expressed this type of delight of place. And I never heard individuals who came from different locations ramble on with this type of rapture about their hometowns. St. Louisans all the time appeared to seek out one another, which stood in marked contrast to a lot of the transplanted Los Angelenos I knew, who would go to great lengths to not be associated in any method with Peoria or Dubuque or wherever it was from whence they hailed.

The underside line was that my dad beloved being from St. Louis. He couldn’t have been prouder to be a hometown boy who made good. He all the time remembered his youth with joy – whether it was discovering arrowheads at the Cahokia Mounds, rooting for the perpetual underdog Browns, or buying his first piece of art at age 12 (a Rembrandt etching) from an area gallery. He was a proud alum of Country Day, and remained associates with lots of his schoolmates for all times – most notably, fellow artwork collector Buster Might. He liked returning residence to visit his mother and father, to perform on the Muny, to talk with Country Day college students – and principally to eat the meals! Definitely my father’s love of meals, which would lead him to writer a cookbook Saveur Journal would name “one of the 100 most important culinary events of the 20th century,” was nurtured in St. Louis.

So, it goes with out saying, that he would have been overjoyed and deeply touched by the fact that St. Louis is throwing him his 100th party. (And he was a person who liked to rejoice his birthday!) I am so grateful to everyone for putting on this excellent Vincentennial! And I hope that, in celebrating his 100th, his fellow St. Louisans can discover not only more about Vincent Worth, but in addition expertise a few of my dad’s pleasure in being from what he thought-about the most effective hometown on the earth!

For enjoyable, we at We Are Movie Geeks though we’d share our Prime Ten “The Best of Vincent Price” article that we originally posted again in Might of 2011 for the Vincentennial

Prime Ten record written by Jim Batts, Dana Jung, and Tom Stockman

10. LAURA (1944)
“I shall never forget the weekend Laura died”, is the first line, intoned by a somber Clifton Webb, of LAURA (1944), a glossy and gripping story of murder among the many elite. Vincent Worth typically stated that his favourite of the films by which he appeared was director Otto Preminger’s 1944 film noir, and most movie buffs who don’t like horror are fast to agree. As noirs go, it’s less a dark and soiled crime drama than most, more reliant on character and script, however it actually is a basic and Worth’s oily supporting performance is nothing in need of chic. The movie pits gruff police detective, Mark McPhereson (Dana Andrews) towards smug and cultured columnist, Waldo Lydecker (Clifton Webb). McPherson has been assigned to research the murder of Laura Hunt (a simmering Gene Tierney). Via a collection of interviews carried out with potential suspects, McPherson builds his profile of the lifeless woman – all the while falling underneath the spell of her hanging portrait. But the puzzle unravels when the murder sufferer materializes in a weird coincidence that forces McPhereson to re-think his complete case. Vincent Worth plays Laura’s fiancee, silver-tongued do-nothing gigolo Shelby Carpenter who gets combined up in the thriller and is just too charming for his personal good. LAURA has an unimaginable grownup script (the screenplay was nominated for an Oscar) with an interesting story crammed with unnerving plot angles, twists galore and hints of necrophilia and homosexuality. The film’s dialogue is especially nicely executed: clever, humorous at occasions, and enhanced by the snappy delivery and exchanges between all of the actors. David Raksin’s grand musical theme has grow to be a regular.

9. THE TINGLER (1958)
Through the 50’s and 60’s one man was recognized in Hollywood for gimmicks that made his thrillers unique. That man was producer/director William Fort. He was a master of promotion check with as ‘ballyhoo’. Fort began his career making low price range ‘B’ footage for Columbia. In 1958 he left the studio to make MACABRE. Fort got here up with a gimmick to attract individuals to the theatre. Every one that purchased a ticket was issued an insurance coverage policy for $1000 towards demise by fright. And for good measure he hired ‘nurse’ to patrol the lobby. For his subsequent picture he forged Vincent Worth in 1959’s THE HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL. In fact Fort wanted a unique gimmick, As an alternative of insurance, he introduced this film in ‘Emergo’. At one level in the film a skeleton would swoop over the audience. Columbia was aware of the large field grosses for these inexpensive films and welcomed Citadel again . For his return he got here up with ‘Percepto’ to hype THE TINGLER. As soon as once more Worth starred, this time as Dr. Warren Chapin who’s learning the consequences of worry on human beings. He believes a creature he dubs ‘The Tingler’ emerges from the spine at occasions of utmost terror. Only a scream would suppress it. Additionally within the forged as his aide David was Daryl Hickman, whose brother Dwayne ( TV’s Dobie Gillis ) would costar with Worth in DR. GOLDFOOT AND THE BIKINI MACHINES in 1965. For a lot of the film Worth performs the position of a kindly physician till he conducts a worry experiment on his cheating spouse. Later Worth has a wild, crazed scene throughout an experiment on himself. With a view to expertise pure worry he injects LSD that David Picked up at a pharmacy! Later he should wrestle with a slithering Tingler that he had extracted from a deceased lady. The highlight of the movie is close to the finale when that Tingler will get unfastened in a movie displaying an previous silent movie (perhaps impressed by the actual Silent Film Theatre on Fairfax in L.A. ). The display goes clean because the shadow of the creature crawls previous while Worth implores the viewers to scream for their lives. Then ‘Percepto’ begins as patrons in certain wired seats get a slight electrical jolt. In 1993 Joe Dante directed MATINEE, a stunning tribute to these popcorn flicks that includes St. Louisian John Goodman as a Citadel-inspired character. If that peaked your curiosity, don’t miss a chance to experience this little bit of showbiz historical past. And also you’ll have even more admiration for Worth as he delivers this loopy dialogue with a straight face.

In the early 1970’s Vincent Worth’s career was at a high level. The Doctor Phibes films have been sudden hits. How would he capitalize on these? In 1973 he took on a task in a film with an identical plot construction. The truth is, many fright film followers contemplate THEATRE OF BLOOD an unofficial finale in a Phibes trilogy. Produced by United Artists relatively then American Worldwide BLOOD differed from the Phibes film in that it was set in trendy occasions and boasted one of the crucial prestigious casts that Worth ever worked with. Worth portrays Edward Lionheart , a stage actor considered lifeless , who returns to homicide the critics that denied him a thespian award. Lots of Britain’s best stage and display actors look like having a blast because the victims. The members of the Critic’s Circle are Michael Hordern, Robert Coote, Jack Hawkins, Arhur Lowe, Robert Morley, Dennis Worth, Harry Andrews, Coral Browne, and Ian Hendry (his character is the one critic who has some sympathy for Lionheart ). Diana Rigg plays Lionheart’s daughter Edwina, a movie make up artist. Hendry and Rigg have been each part of the TV collection ‘The Avengers’, he in the first episodes as Dr. David Keel and she or he attaining worldwide fame later as Emma Peel. Speaking of TV, in 1989 Ms. Rigg would take over internet hosting duties from Mr. Worth on the PBS ‘Mystery!’ collection. In later years Worth would check with BLOOD as his favourite horror film for several causes. The ingenious script has Edward dispatching the critics in murder scenes inspired by deaths in Shakespeare’s performs. This gave Worth an opportunity to recreate a number of of the basic roles. He also will get to imagine several disguises: a bobby, French chef, swishy hairdresser, and a masseuse who tips Hawkins into believing his wife ( played by the British Marilyn Monroe, Diana Dors ) is having an affair a la ‘Othello’. Worth can also have had a smooth spot for this film as he met the lady who can be his final wife, Coral Browne. The movie has some great comic aid from Milo O’Shea and Eric Sykes as investigating officers who appear all the time two steps behind Edward. The film has great location work ( nothing was shot on studios sets ), brisk course, and a witty script that blends suspense and humor. Vincent Worth is a delight on this, maybe, his last great horror film.

Regardless that Richard Matheson’s novel I AM LEGEND has been filmed 3 times (formally), solely one of many movie versions worked with a script by Matheson himself (though billed as -‘Logan Swanson’). Initially a Hammer Movie property (how great would which were?), Matheson’s script was ultimately bought to Lippert Productions and made cheaply in Italy with an Italian forged and crew, as THE LAST MAN ON EARTH (1964). For its bankable American star, Vincent Worth was forged as the lead. Worth was at the peak of his reputation from a collection of sensible Edgar Allan Poe variations directed by Roger Corman (the producers correctly emphasised the horrific parts of Matheson’s story with Worth’s image within the promoting). But in LAST MAN Worth delivers one in every of his greatest performances as the one ‘human’ left after a organic plague has decimated the population. Whether or not he’s coping with feelings of loneliness and grief, or just displaying human pettiness, Worth imbues the film with a way of quiet despair. Worth appears in almost every body of the movie, and dominates the story together with his nice persona. At the moment, regardless of its low finances and black & white cinematography, with its exceptional opening scenes of dying and desolation, and of Worth nightly withstanding the siege of ‘vampires’, the movie is seen as a highly influential (George Romero cites it as an inspiration) and memorable version of the well-known tale.

The distinctive contact of cult director Robert Fuest is clear all through THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES (1971) and its equally entertaining sequel DR. PHIBES RISES AGAIN (1972). The bizarre, absurdist set design, the operatic musical rating, and the grand performance by star Vincent Worth all combine to create a very surreal horror masterpiece. It is a testomony to Worth’s epic display presence that he dominates the movie with out uttering a single phrase of dialogue! (Neither does his assistant, the gorgeous Vulnavia). It’s true that he does converse offscreen via a microphone, but he carries each movies by expressing his character principally by means of motion and facial options. Whether or not he’s enjoying his pipe organ with great flourish, displaying his whimsical glee on the destiny of his enemies, or grimly resigning himself to the burning obsession which drives him, Worth, even hidden underneath HOUSE OF WAX-inspired make-up–showcases yet again his potential to dominate a film. He is also obviously having nice fun right here underneath the steerage of Fuest, whom Worth referred to as “one of the best directors I’ve ever worked with.” An extra multitude of riches await the fan in DR. PHIBES as properly. Caroline Munro, in what should certainly be her briefest movie position ever, performs Phibe’s lifeless wife, and is proven solely in still pictures sporting snazzy 1920s outfits or as a dull physique. The SAW movie collection owes DR. PHIBES a terrific debt, as a number of of the demise sequences (particularly the climactic ones) are very intricate mechanisms during which the victim decides his personal destiny. The movie was additionally the only display pairing of Worth and the good Joseph Cotten, regardless that the lads have been lifelong buddies from their days in Orson Welles’ Mercury Theatre Company.

Many works of fiction have been stated to be ahead of their time. On the planet of motions footage few are more prophetic than the 1950 comedy basic CHAMPAGNE FOR CAESAR. By that yr, thoughts you, quiz exhibits have been well-liked on radio and that young upstart tv, but by the top of the decade these packages would inspire a nationwide craze ( and a scandal later depicted in Robert Redford’s movie QUIZ SHOW ). CAESAR foreshadows all this whereas showcasing some delightful performances by actors usually not recognized for giant display comedies. The plot centers on an unemployed genius Beauregard Bottomley performed by one among Hollywood’s most celebrated leading men, Ronald Colman. He was greatest recognized then for roles in THE PRISONER OF ZENDA, LOST HORIZON, and RANDOM HARVEST, however immediately he may be greatest referred to as the vocal inspiration for cereal pitch man ( er..hen ) Toucan Sam. Beauregard shares a modest LA bungalow together with his sister Gwenn performed by Barbara Britton ( who later co-starred in TV’s Mr. and Mrs. North) who teaches piano and the film’s title character Caesar, a parrot with a taste for booze ( his exclamations, resembling “get loaded!”,and “How about a short one?” are offered Looney Tunes’ man of a thousand voices Mel Blanc ). One evening the Bottomleys view a couple of minutes of a recreation show on a TV in a retailer’s window display. It’s ‘Masquerade for Money’ sponsored by My Woman Cleaning soap ( the soap that sanctifies ) and hosted by Happy Hogan ( Hmmm marvel if Stan Lee noticed this? That identify was given to Tony Stark’s driver/bodyguard in his Iron Man comedian e-book stories a decade alter ) performed by Artwork Linkletter who would quickly have a huge TV hit together with his transplanted radio present Individuals Are Funny. Beauregard dismisses it till the unemployment workplace sends him to the My Woman Cleaning soap headquarters for a job interview with the company president Burnbridge Waters by Vincent Worth. Worth had been making films for twelve years, but this film exhibits a zany, comedian type not yet seen on display. When Waters concentrates he goes into a trance and virtually becomes a wax figure. He’s boastful, pompous, and dismissive particularly together with his squad of sure men ( which embrace Ed Wood common Lyle Talbot, who performed Lex Luthor within the serial ATOM MAN VS. SUPERMAN and Commissioner Gordon within the serial BATMAN AND ROBIN, and John Hart who would exchange Clayton Moore as TV’s Lone Ranger for one season). Leaving Waters’s office after dropping out on the job and being insulted, Beauregard decides to go on the My Woman sponsored quiz present. There he easily answers the questions, however refuses the prize cash. He needs to return on the subsequent show and go double or nothing. Waters is delighted when this turns into a scores ( and soap gross sales ) bonanza, but is horrified when his questions can’t stump Beauregard, who intends to keep incomes money until he owns the company. A rattled Waters sends Hogan out to romance information from Gwenn and he hires intellectual femme fatale Flame – Neill performed by Celeste Holm ( the original Ado Annie in Oklahoma had gained a supporting Oscar for GENTLEMAN’S AGREEMENT three years ago and was about to be seen in ALL ABOUT EVE ) to distract Bottomley. I don’t want to reveal far more or  spoil the movie’s nice humor and surprises. The primary purpose to see is the delightful performance of Mr. Worth. His droll wit would come via in his later work, however right here he’s a whirling dervish of mirth-an inspired comic villain. A number of years later Worth and Colman would spar once more in Irwin Allen’s campy THE STORY OF MANKIND, however right here in CHAMPAGNE FOR CAESAR the laughs are intentional., and very, very plentiful.


The well-known AIP Corman-Poe collection of films concluded with an ideal one-two punch: THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH and THE TOMB OF LIGEIA, both launched in 1964. Corman had needed to do RED DEATH immediately after the success of the first movie in the collection, HOUSE OF USHER. Nevertheless, he had second thoughts when he realized the similarities between the story parts for RED DEATH and Ingmar Bergman’s THE SEVENTH SEAL, which had simply been launched a number of years earlier. Since he didn’t need to look like copying Bergman, he decided to delay the undertaking. This was a fortuitous selection, as THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH benefited from the wait by buying a larger price range, location capturing in England, and Corman’s expertise on the earlier Poe footage. Drawing not only on Bergman, but in addition on the work of Hitchcock and German expressionist movies, Corman created considered one of his biggest cinematic artistic endeavors. Working with the outstanding cinematographer Nicolas Roeg (later a singular & gifted director in his own right), Corman used subdued main colors (blue, yellow, white) to create a nightmarish high quality that permeates the movie. The color pink does not seem until later, which makes its use all the extra surprising. The sets (allegedly left over from greater productions like BECKET and A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS) are superb, and enhance the environment even additional. Capturing in England additionally allowed Corman to attract on the gifted pool of actors there, similar to Jane Asher, Patrick Magee, and Hazel Courtroom. The actual star of RED DEATH is, in fact, Vincent Worth, portraying the personification of evil, Prospero. Except for the grand and typically witty dialogue, Worth imbues Prospero with delicate shades of character. We will typically glimpse the depths of depravity lurking just beneath the urbane princely exterior, or the almost hidden stirrings of conscience that he continuously subjugates to the facility and corruption of his devil-worshipping character. Of all of the Corman-Poe films, RED DEATH was not Worth’s favorite (he appreciated LIGEIA more), as a result of he felt the story strayed too far from the original Poe materials (although it also contained parts from Poe’s Hop Frog). However when it comes to sheer cinematic perfection, with its tone of impending dread, use of shade, nice performances, and visual fashion, THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH remains Corman’s masterpiece.

The final entry in Roger Corman & Vincent Worth’s six-film cycle of Edgar Allen Poe variations, THE TOMB OF LIGEIA was never a favourite to youngsters because of its lack of overt horror parts and its give attention to gothic romance. The years have been excellent to LIGEIA, now thought-about to be probably the most formidable and mature film in the collection and Worth himself is on document as saying it was one of the best of his eight Corman collaborations. Worth played British aristocrat Verden Fell, who believes his wife Ligeia, who’d committed suicide, will return from the grave and that her spirit has entered a cat. He meets Woman Rowena (Elizabeth Shepherd), her spitting picture, and the two marry, opening the doorway for Ligeia’s revenge. Corman and crew returned to England after filming the earlier entry, MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH there, filming LIGEIA at the crumbling Fort Acre Priory in Norfolk, and the film benefits from the shortage of stagy, claustrophobic studio units that marked the remainder of the collection. In reality, the first twenty minutes takes place within the brilliant outdoor and that Fell has a medical aversion to sunlight seems applicable, virtually like they have been cleverly building on what had gone on in the earlier movies. Elizabeth Shepherd was an exquisite and gifted actress who had been hired to exchange Honor Blackman on “The Avengers” TV collection as the primary Emma Peel however was fired and replaced with Diana Rigg before audiences have been capable of see her in action. Her Rowena is extra fleshed out than any female character within the Worth/Corman/Poe collection. In contrast to the morose, downcast ladies of the sooner movies, Ms Shepherd wears a smile throughout much of the proceedings that grows more sinister as the story progresses, though her character isn’t immune from the same fate as most Poe ladies. It’s principally a two-person drama and Ms Shepherd holds her personal towards Worth, who’s at his most anguished. Screenwriter Robert Towne, who would go on to win an Oscar nine years later for CHINATOWN, offered a genuine, if suggestive, ghost story with a way of realism lacking from the sooner Poe movies. Corman employed Arthur Grant, longtime director of images for a lot of Hammer horror movies, including THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF and FRANKENSTEIN MUST BE DESTROYED and Grant makes use of the English countryside in ways he didn’t for Hammer.

It’s probably that Vincent Worth never delivered a better performance than the one he gave in WITCHFINDER GENERAL (1968), the fact-based story of notorious witchhunter Matthew Hopkins and the barbaric acts he practiced in mid-17th century England. Worth utterly jettisoned his typical campy theatrics in favor of an appropriately low-key, sinister, and menacing depiction of a purely evil man who hides behind a masks of spiritual allegiance. Worth performs Hopkins as an unmerciful fiend with a genteel method and an urge for food for torture, especially burning. The film is cruel in its violence but in addition intelligent and efficient and Worth is relatively restrained in a posh position as a man who whose mission is to realize confessions and take the lives of those marked as Satan’s helpers. Worth regarded his efficiency right here as the best of his horror film profession. Director Michael Reeves and Worth famously battled on set over the actor’s strategy to enjoying Hopkins, and Worth ultimately agreed that Reeves was a genius and his insistence that Worth subdue his performance was the suitable one. Reeves was simply 25 when he directed WITCHFINDER GENERAL, his fourth movie, however was no stranger to working with main horror stars. He previously had helmed CASTLE OF THE LIVING DEAD (1964) with Christopher Lee, THE SHE-BEAST (1966) with Barbara Steele, and THE SORCERERS (1967) with Boris Karloff. Worth and Reeves have been scheduled to re-team the following yr for THE OBLONG BOX however Reeves was found lifeless of a barbiturate overdose in February of 1969 (some sources declare it was suicide). WITCHFINDER GENERAL is a particularly sadistic film, however its particulars are based mostly on reality. The Civil Struggle in 17th century Britain was horrific and left individuals hungry and determined. Accusing a neighbor of witchcraft had the instant advantage of claiming the property they left behind. Locals have been eager to assist Hopkins, even when he asks that the daughters of the lads he imprisoned be delivered to his bedchamber. The actual-life Hopkins lived an extended life and died of pure causes however the film provides him a bloody dying, regardless that it’s unsatisfying to its younger hero (performed by Reeves common Ian Ogilvy) who ends the movie with the haunted refrain “You took him from me!”. When American Worldwide released this film in the U.S. in 1968 they modified the title to CONQUEROR WORM and tried to cross it off as one from their Edgar Allen Poe collection by adding a number of strains from the writer’s summary poem of that title. WITCHFINDER GENERAL shouldn’t be only considered one of Vincent Worth’s highest films however the black-hearted Mathew Hopkins is one among cinema’s most scary villains.

Not a lot of Edgar Allen Poe’s brief story which shares its title is on display apart from the eponymous torture system, but because of a deft screenplay by Richard Matheson, a pitch-perfect efficiency by Vincent Worth, positive handed course by Roger Corman, and the impressed casting of Barbara Steele, THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM is an epic helping of gothic grand guignol that deserves its place on the highest of this listing. Vincent Worth’s Don Medina is a much more energetic than his Roderick Usher type the earlier yr. Worth was typically accused of overacting, but his frantic scenery-chewing was the right fashion for this material. The casting of the otherworldly Barbara Steele exhibits that American International was properly impressed together with her horror debut within the previous yr’s BLACK SUNDAY (as they need to have been), the Italian movie they distributed and this was her stateside debut. Steele is one thing to behold in THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM, slinking and smirking like a deranged cat across the torture chamber, driving Worth and the viewers to delirium. Steele wasn’t long for Hollywood although. She fled the set of an Elvis film the subsequent yr and returned to Europe where she starred in a string of unparalleled gothic horrors. Corman’s digital camera stays in time to the berserk performances of his two horror stars, as he experiments with odd lens methods and hallucinatory framing and also you’d never guess that THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM was shot on for less than $200,000 as it is persistently dazzling to take a look at with spooky shade camerawork by Floyd Crosby and imposing artwork design by Daniel Haller. Stock footage of the climactic torture sequence would later find its approach into the 1966 spy spoof DR. GOLDFOOT AND THE BIKINI MACHINE, which additionally starred Vincent Worth as well as GHOST IN THE INVISIBLE BIKINI (additionally 1966). THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM is a unbelievable and interesting viewing expertise that just retains getting higher with age.