Robert Osborne on Vincent Price
This month we'll serve a full platter of Price in some of his best, most spooky spine-tinglers on October 24 and October 31 (Halloween itself ), such as his famous "house" films: House of Wax, House of Usher and House on Haunted Hill; also Pit and the Pendulum, Tower of London, The Bat, The Raven and numerous others. But what especially excites me about this salute to the St. Louis-born actor is the fact that throughout the month, every Thursday, we'll also be devoting quality time to an extensive number of films he made before his name became so indelibly associated with making one's teeth chatter. We'll be emphasizing what a versatile and consummate actor he was, without a single conquering worm, deranged bat, ravenous raven or frustrated fly anywhere in sight.
On October 3, for example, among the six Price prizes we'll be airing will be the spectacular drama The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex, in which V. Price plays Sir Walter Raleigh in the court of Queen Elizabeth I; later that night, he's Gene Tierney's modern-day jilted lover in Leave Her to Heaven. On October 10 we'll be showing six more of his movies, one of which has him as a real-life land swindler of Bernard Madoff proportions named James Addison Reavis in Sam Fuller's woefully underrated The Baron of Arizona; that same evening Price also plays a ham actor inadvertently mixed up with gangsters in Mexico in John Farrow's His Kind of Woman. On October 17, Price plays both the sniveling head man at a newspaper, trying to out-scoop all the competition in finding a serial killer in Fritz Lang's While the City Sleeps, and a man named Mr. Morality, involved with a singing-swiveling Elvis in The Trouble with Girls.
In other words, you'll get a full sampling of what a well-rounded, varied career the remarkable Mr. Price enjoyed. And it may surprise you (or maybe not) that this versatile actor was known offscreen for being a great art connoisseur, a witty raconteur, a remarkable chef, an exceptional friend and, despite his natural elegance, quite a down-to-earth fellow. He was also famous for his jolly sense of humor, a trait which made him a formidable partner to his wife, the witty and wry actress Coral Browne, best known to moviegoers as Rosalind Russell's acid- tongued best friend in Auntie Mame. Quite a pair they were.
By the way, our October lineup on TCM includes many fright films with no association to our Star of the Month. You'll also be able to see a myriad of goodies, including Bride of Frankenstein, Freaks, Night of the Living Dead, Cat People, The Haunting and The Mummy, for starters, plus two oddities for which, I must admit, words totally fail me: Billy the Kid vs. Dracula and Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter. Check them out, if you're brave, on October 5.
by Robert Osborne