This month we look to celebrate the fact that Peter Cushing would have been one hundred years old (May 26th) and we’ll will no doubt celebrate it by watching his movies. For horror fans these will be Hammer films, which are the ones that I grew up with, for some it will be Star Wars, a role that saw him dominate the screen and actually command Darth Vader in a style that only Cushing could, totally outmatching the dark lord of the Sith. All joking about the Sith aside though to build up to this centenary I was given the chance to review Peter Cushing: A Life in Film by David Miller, and when I’d finally finished it I had a new found respect for an actor who was truly one of the greats.
It’s interesting that for many like me who grew up as horror fans that we always think of him for the Hammer films, and in some respect think he played a secondary role to Christopher Lee. The truth is of course that he was the star of these movies and at the time actually caught peoples interest more than Lee himself. I’m sure that Christopher Lee would agree with what I just said there and not see that as an insult, which of course I don’t mean to give at all.
In reading Peter Cushing: A Life in Film what struck me, and will probably strike you when you read it is what a nice man Cushing actually appears to be, and how much he loved his wife. You’ll read about all of the films he was in and love the nostalgic look back at roles you never even knew he had but the most important part of the book, almost on every page was how much his wife was a part of his life, even after she died. It’s somewhat of a tragic love story really the way that after she died he was somewhat of a shadow of his former self just waiting until the day that he could join her again.
For fans of film, if you truly know your stuff or even if you are just a person who liked to watch the odd movie when you get the chance you no doubt know Cushing, even if it was just for Star Wars but if you want to try to understand the man better you should really buy this book. David Miller looks at Cushing’s life with a respectful but truthful look at the man, pointing out the mistakes he made as well as the successes, but truly shows he is a fan of Cushing, and in truth how could you not be a fan? Cushing was arguably one of the best Van Helsings ever to be put on screen and a truly excellent Sherlock Holmes too, and lets not forget Doctor Who. I learnt he’d done quite a few Sherlock Holmes stories in his time which I would love to track down, hopefully that won’t be too hard a task.
I love reading about film history, especially the actors that formed my love of not only horror but film too and Cushing along with people like Christopher Lee, Oliver Reed and many others went a long way into making me the fan I am today. All the nights of staying up late so I could watch old Hammer movies, then watching them on VHS, then DVD and onwards is something many film fans can relate to, but getting to know the actors behind the films open a whole new world that awaits beyond what we see on the silver screen and Peter Cushing: A Life in Film by David Miller is one book that is a must read for any fan, it truly is an excellent book.
Peter Cushing: A Life in Film by David Miller is available now courtesy of Titan Books
This review was originally posted on Pissed Off Geek.
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