It was back in 1928 that a 17-year-old Vincent Price first stepped foot on European soil as part of his Grand Tour, where he finally got to see the great works of art that he was so passionate about. His tour took in seven art capitals, beginning in the UK on 14 July and ending in France on 26 August.
Recently, ESC Tours – which is run by his daughter Victoria Price and Vincent Price Legacy UK curator Peter Fuller – put together a series of bespoke tours in Belgium, the Netherlands and France, that not only followed in Vincent’s footsteps, but also paid homage to his life philosophy – to be forever curious about the world around you. Here’s what happened…
On Tuesday 21 May, our first port of call was the historic Huis ter Duin in Noordwijk, where Vincent Price stayed with his tour group in 1928. It was here that, according to his personal diary, he had a transcendental connection with his mother back home in his home town in St Louis, Missouri. We took a bracing walk along the beach, attempted a little ESP connection to those who had gone or lived apart from us – just as Vincent did – then toured the hotel where Vincent’s group stayed 91 years ago. Much has changed of course — lots of renovation and extensions have taken place on the historic hotel (where the Dutch royals once resided alongside the upper classes here) — but it was a great start to our journey.
We then headed off to Delft, famous, of course, for the Dutch Baroque Period painter Johannes Vermeer and its iconic blue and white tiles. Our tour of the city mainly centred on the town square, which was featured in an iconic sequence in Werner Herzog’s Nosferatu the Vampyre.
On Wednesday 22 May, we headed into Wallonia, famous for its ancient castles, fortresses and beautiful scenery, where we visited a museum dedicated to the Belgian cartoonist Hergé (of Tintin fame), took lunch at Maredsous Abbey, where they produce their own beer and cheese, and toured some castle ruins in Montaigle. We also happened to chance upon a film shoot taking place at remote property that looked ever so spooky — we think it may have been for a horror film.
Thursday 23 May and it was time to board our Mystery Machine again for the drive to Ghent where we strolled through the famous ancient city, visited St Bavo’s Cathedral to see the famed Ghent Altarpiece, Het Lam Gods, and took a self-guided tour Gravensteen Castle (where we were rather disappointed to find that its dungeon was no more).
After some retail therapy and a rest-up at a local cafe, we headed to the coast, to Oostende, where we checked into the glorious Thermae Palace hotel — a real gem and reminder of the past — where Harry Küme’s classic Belgium vampire horror, Daughters of Darkness (aka Les Lèvres Rouges), was filmed (check out my now and then shots below). During our walk on the beach at sunset we couldn’t resist recreating our own version of the Ghent Altarpiece when we chanced upon a steel sculpture inspired by it.
Our road trip concluded on Friday 24 May with us heading back to Schipol via the abandoned city of Doel. Now this is not on any normal tour, but is a must. It’s a ghost town that’s turned into living art – and the total antithesis of the other attraction we visited – Kinderdijk, a picture postcard Dutch village filled with windmills and coachloads of tourists (which the locals hate BTW).
Saying goodbye to our Mystery Machine, and to some of our group, we took the train into Amsterdam, where we met up with a new group of campers for a welcome dinner at De Kas, a fab farm-to-table restaurant located in a set of greenhouses that date back to the 1920s. This would be the first of three elaborate meals that we would have during our stay. The Dutch love their taster menus — and boy do they know how to do them.
Our Amsterdam adventure kicked off properly on Saturday 25 May with a visit to the Rijksmuseum, home to Rembrandt’s The Night Watch (one of the key works of art that Vincent saw for the first time – up, close and personal – in 1928).
We also visited the All the Rembrandts Exhibition, which presented 22 paintings, 60 drawings and more than 300 best examples of Rembrandt’s prints. Interestingly, Vincent’s first piece of art that he bought was a Rembrandt etching. Unfortunately, it was never recorded as to which piece it was — so we shall never know what became of it.
One of the activities we do on our tours is pick our favourite piece from each art collection that we visit and then discuss it later. This piece, Saul and the Witch of Endor, attracted the attention of three of us in the group — probably on account of its occult themes and its fantastical creatures.
We were also treated to a mammoth three-hour five-course lunch at the Michelin-starred Rijks restaurant, which had ‘traded spaces’ with a farm-to-table restaurant in Bali called Locavore. The quality was excellent, and the quanity bountiful — but no room for dinner this evening.
The Museum Quarter in Amsterdam was a great place to start our city break, and some of our group took the opportunity to visit the new Moco Contemporary Art Museum, which was dedicated to the works of the street artist Banksy, as well as Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, and Daniel Arsham. I think I loved the setting, the historic Villa Alsberg, as much as the artwork.
Sunday 26 May found our group splitting up to visit Rembrandt’s House and the Amsterdam Dungeon (which was whole lot of fun), then we all met up to tour the Anne Frank House, where Anne, her family and four other people who hid from the Nazis in rooms in the secret annex during World War Two. This was truly a sobering, educational visit, and is a must-do when in the city.
The evening was all about Vincent Price as we headed to Lab 111 for a presentation by Victoria about her dad’s legacy, followed by a screening of House of the Long Shadows starring Vincent alongside Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing — which was perfect as it was Peter’s birthday today, while Vincent and Chris’ birthday is May 27.
And speaking of birthday’s, on Monday 27 May, we celebrated what would have been Vincent’s 108th birthday by doing the things he would have done – we headed to an art museum, of course. In this case, it was the Van Gogh Museum, which was a true delight and a place I could happily return to time and again.
You can’t not head to Amsterdam without doing a canal cruise, which took in the well-known districts of the Pijp, the Jordaan and the Red Light District, as we sailed past iconic bridges and the picturesque merchant houses — including ones that featured in the Bondclassic, Diamonds Are Forever, starring Sean Connery.
We ended the day with a meal at the Restaurant La Rive in the Amstel Hotel, where Vincent and Mary Price also visited and included in their acclaimed culinary tome, A Treasury of Great Recipes. This was another gastromonic affair where we got a true taste of haute cuisine.
On Tuesday 28 May, we had planned on a day trip to of Haarlem before taking the train to Paris — but misfortune struck in the form of a public transport strike. So we ended up on a Eurolines coach — which took many hours. Not a great start to the final part of our European adventure, but we are all laughing about it now.
Vincent Price ended his Grand Tour of 1928 in Paris, where he visited so many of Paris’s justly famous cultural sites. We planned to do the same — and added in a few more that have since become part of the pantheon of the City of Lights.
So, on Wednesday 29 May, we began with a morning tour of the Musee d’Orsay art gallery set in a stunning converted Beaux Arts railway station, followed by lunch at 1.30pm at the Eiffel Tower’s 58 Tour restaurant (which has the best views of Paris in my book). In the afternoon, we cruised the Seine, and concluded with dinner at Café de l’Empire, where confit duck was the speciality. A big day indeed… and much needed after that long journey the day before.
For horror fans, visiting Notre Dame and the Palais Opera Garnier is a must when in Paris — especially regarding their links to those classics of the horror genre, The Phantom of the Opera and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. While Notre Dame was closed due to the recent devastating fire, when we visited on Thursday 30 May, some of the group took a tour of the Opera House while others explored the nearby Galleries Lafayette, for a bit of retail therapy.
Then it was off to the Louvre – unquestionably one of the finest art galleries in the world with some 380,000 objects from pre-history to the 21st century with 35,000 works of art over 8 departments on display. After a good few hours there, we finished the day with dinner at La Grande Mosquée de Paris — which was so relaxing after the hussle and bustle of the Louvre and its many tourists.
On Friday, 31 May, we had a couple of different options. Some went off to explore some obscure sites of Paris, others wanted to rest, and another group headed to Fontainebleau to visit the historic town and take in an equestrian fair.
On Saturday 1 June, Victoria lead an EverWalk excursion through the Marais, while I took a group to visit the Catacombs — but a yellow vests demonstration resulted in the police closing it for most of the day.
But all was not lost as we headed to Père Lachaise Cemetery for the rest of the afternoon and ended the day with one of the most touristy things ever — dinner and a show at the Moulin Rouge.
Our adventures ended on a real high on Sunday 2 June with a trip to Disneyland Paris. Yes, I know its for kids and families — but we were guests of Disney because they have reintroduced Vincent’s original narration into the Phantom Manor attraction.
This was a fantastic opportunity to accompany Victoria as she listened to her dad’s voice again after so many years. We also got a personal guided tour of the park and were first in line for all the classic rides. It was, without doubt, a day to remember — and the perfect end to such an adventurous tour. Until next time, that is!
Did you know a play has been created celebrating the life of Coral Browne (aka Mrs Vincent Price No.3)?
Making its London debut recently at the King’s Head Theatre in Islington, London, This F***ing Lady! stars Amanda Muggleton as the Melbourne-born actress who lit up the London stage from the late-1930s to the 1960s (her Lady Macbeth is legendary) and became pals with the likes of Alec Guinness and Robert Morley, as well as Joe Orton, Barry Humphries and Cecil Beaton (one of her many lovers before Vincent came along).
But her crowning achievement was the 1983 BBC TV drama An Englishman Abroad – about her real-life encounter with Cambridge spy Guy Burgess – which was written for her by Alan Bennett, and scored her a BAFTA in 1984.
A great wit and supremely stylish, Coral fell head over heels in love with Vincent Price after he electrocuted her in the cult horror classic Theatre of Blood. But what she didn’t know was that their affair ended his 24-year marriage to his second wife Mary.
I attended the opening night of the play with Vincent and Mary’s daughter, Victoria and while she admitted it was slightly surreal to be sitting in a theatre watching someone playing her ‘wicked stepmother (as she affectionately called her), Victoria felt Amanda really captured Coral’s charisma and expletive-laden wit – and there were a couple of moments when she thought it was actually Coral telling one of her own anecdotes.
Although the show only had a short run (over three weekends), I just had to return for the final performance. And I must say that Amanda (who played one of my favourite characters – Chrissie Latham – in the Oz TV drama Prisoner Cell Block H back in the 1980s) shone even better than her first night (which she admitted was a little under-rehearsed). But the good news is that the show is set to return (but nothing is confirmed as yet). And when it does, I do encourage you to go see it.
In the meantime, our guest reviewer, Ali Pye (who lives for the London stage), gives her take on this vivid portrait of the unapologetically lusty woman that Barry Humphries described as ‘magnificently Melbourne’…
ALI PYE REVIEWS CORAL BROWNE: THE F***ING LADY!
1984 – The BAFTA TV Best Actress Award looks like a photo finish between stage Dames Maggie and Judi. The surprise winner on the night, pipping them at the post in an Alan Bennett Cold War spy two hander in which the dramatic highlight is the measuring of an inside leg, and actually portraying herself twenty years previously with little more than light foundation and a series of startling hats, the name in the golden envelope elicits a playful chorus of “Who the **** is Coral Browne…?!”. If asterisks trouble you, this may not be the show you’re looking for.
An overnight sensation for her victory turn in “An
Englishman Abroad”, Coral had in fact been sensational on stage and screen for
over 50 years.
Amanda Muggleton’s one-woman tour de force of nature
performance launches in this moment. Rising from the audience like Aphrodite
from the waves, if Aphrodite wore a white satin pant suit and low-strung double
pearls, to accept the accolade, turn to the audience and start the regale.
Flamboyant, fabulous, formidable, feisty, flirtatious, other
words starting with “F” fly across the intimate little set in the snug back-bar
Kings Head Theatre.
Coral by the mid 1980’s resides in Santa Monica as the
adored Mrs Vincent Price, an inseparable Hollywood couple since “The Theatre of
Blood” film some decade earlier in which he murdered her.
If the BAFTA award acceptance speech was the pinnacle, then
the first clamber up the theatrical foothills was coming second in the Ballarat
Eisteddfod, reciting Longfellow’s Hiawatha, as a 12-year-old Australian
schoolgirl. Coral was bitten early by the performance bug.
Up ‘em, at ‘em and frequently among ‘em, Muggleton sashays across
the stage and through at least four rows of audience, fearless, forthright, her
platinum mane a frosted crest, She slouches shyly into the girl from the
genteel Melbourne suburb of (Far) Kew, just some days off the London-bound boat
in 1934 knocking tentatively on the door of a magnificently indifferent Dame
Sybil Thorndyke. Through three decades of theatrical star turns and finally to
stride triumphant across the West End blasted heath storming all the great
Shakespeare heroines against Gielgud, Redgrave, Richardson and Guinness.
Coral’s command of Lady Macbeth became so authoritative that
younger actress regarded her as a go-to-guide (“Keep your eyes open during the
sleepwalking scene, dear…”). An early foray on screen saw her cast as a sassy
spy attempting the unlikely seduction of George Formby. The position of his
little ukulele is not recorded in the annals of film history. But Coral’s career
trajectory was sealed as the flirty friend and slinky adulteress and dipsy
devil-may-care girl about town.
Maureen Sherlock’s punchy little seventy five minute drama
‘This F***ing Lady’ promotes some nuanced playing. The jump from Lady Macbeth
famously “giving suck” to a lost infant segues nicely into the reflective dip
of the head as Coral confesses to her maternal failings, an admitted “wicked
stepmother” to her real-life step-children. Her relationship with her own needy
parent, comfortably contained in a domestic arrangement that veers towards the
“high security twilight home” of Coral’s fellow exile from Melbourne, Dame Edna
Everage, seeps sadly through later scenes.
Pre – #Me Too, the young actress abroad embraces the
theatrical bed-hopping, post-matinee trysts and torrid marital affairs with a
“Why not?” pragmatism. The quality of the writing shines through the fog of
wartime bunk-ups. Coral’s delicious self-depreciation never sharper than in
defining herself, involved in an extensive dalliance with theatre impresario Firth
Shephard four storeys up in the bombed out Savoy Hotel, as “Shephard’s Bush”.
Beneath the glitter and the glam, and the name-dropping of
top end labels when it comes to undies gifted by the studios (Balmain a
favourite), shines the flinty business woman.
Spotting the potential of, and securing the rights to, ‘The Man Who Came
to Dinner’ in 1940 brought in steady royalty cheques for the rest of her life.
The throwaway line and accompanying wink that she improbably borrowed £3000
from her dentist to do so is practically a play in itself.
Muggleton’s ferocity never falters, mimicking the bravery of
Coral, never less than a trooper. Lead actress in the 1969 production of Orton’s
‘What the Butler Saw’, set in a madhouse and requiring at least two of the cast
to entirely remove their clothes, cautiously opening in Brighton she was
deserving of a medal at the very least. Her great friend’s Alan Bennett’s
assessment of the south coast harridans never truer than when presented with an
innuendo-laden smutfest climaxing (in every sense) with an over-sized model of Winston
Churchill’s phallus raised heavenwards.”The sleek Sussex matrons
sit poised in the stalls like greyhounds in the slips. The first ‘f***’ and they’re a mile down the sea front,
streaking for Hove….” recites Muggleton, perched giggling on the very edge of Row B,
conspiratorially certain that theatre punters in 2019 Islington are
considerably less fragile.
It is a glorious life lived onstage, backstage and with
gleeful outrage and this work serves the subject well. Quibbles with the
staging amount to the comparative unlikeliness of regal Coral Browne packing
her own suitcases, although the notion frames the reminiscences, allows the flicking
through of photo scrapbooks and reading aloud of boxed love letters. As likely
frankly as abandoning the London stage while the Blitz rained down to tinker
with an ambulance, plant turnips or tap out semaphore at Bletchley.
She is part of a lost generation, here celebrated with
vibrancy and enthusiasm. It is fitting that the last scene of An Englishman
Abroad shows a debonair Alan Bates as Guy Burgess striding through wintery
Moscow, a prisoner in all but name, resplendent in the Saville Row threads that
Coral Browne has facilitated for him. The show is going on.
They have left the stage now, the roaring crowd filed out.
Coral died in 1991. The eulogy famously delivered at her funeral service by
Barry Humphries encapsulated not only this f***king lady but the times through
which she passed.
To paraphrase, they leave behind emptiness, a gap, a void, and
a trough… The World is indeed a good deal less.
This cracking little one-woman show f***ing rocks.
The distinctive, iconic voice of Vincent Price can be heard once again on a new 12″ EP featuring a never-before-released recitation of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Conqueror Worm fused with a pulsating electronica score from London-based electronica outfit The Core.
Pressed on coloured vinyl with artwork designed by celebrated illustrator Graham Humphreys, this Limited Edition EP (300 units) is now available to order directly from our VP shop on this site for only £14.99 (excluding postage). One copy per customer.
Back in October 2012, Little Shoppe of Horrors editor Richard Klemensen dedicated Issue 29 to tell the ‘definitive history’ of director Robert Fuest’s cult classic The Abominable Dr Phibes, starring Vincent Price in one of his most iconic movie roles. It was a revelation, featuring Phibesologist Justin Humphreys’ phan-tastic feature, The Kind of Fiend Who Wins, which was packed with detailed information about the making of the film, from its story genesis to its hugely successful cinema release.
This beautifully-designed issue also included Humphreys’ essay on the film’s art director Brian Eatwell, alongside David Taylor and Sam Irvin’s well-researched feature The Unphilmed Phibes, which exhumed all the lost Phibes movies, and Bruce Hallenbeck’s informative article on the making of the sequel, Dr Phibes Rises Again, and contributions from cult film writers Denis Meikle, David Del Valle, Derek Botello, and many more. Plus, it had special introductions from Tim Burton and Frank Darabont.
I so love this issue and have returned to it countless times – especially for the many behind-the-scenes photos and artwork, as well as the interesting sidebar features that included the hunt for Phibes’ Rolls Royce, a review of the original LP Soundtrack, as well as tributes to the two actresses who played Vulnavia, Virginia North and Valli Kemp.
Fast-forward to 2018 and Humphreys, who works as a film historian at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, has revived his original essay for this new paperback book from Bear Manor Media. Now the big question for anyone who already has the LSoH celebration issue is – ‘Is it worth getting?’
On the plus side, and it’s a big plus, you get expanded versions of Humphreys’ The Kind of Fiend Who Wins and the Taylor/Irvin contribution, The Unphilmed Phibes, both of which include extra bits added from interviews with screenwriters William Goldstein and James Whiton, sound designer Peter Lennard, actress Fiona Lewis, and many others.
There’s a Foreward from Dr. Phibes’ creator, William Goldstein, and also new conversations with organist Nicholas Kynaston (who played the War March of the Priests title track), Dr Phibes Rises Again composer John Gale, and screenwriter Lem Dobbs. Plus, longer versions of Humphreys’ previously published articles on Brian Eatwell and his wonderful tribute to Bob Fuest, which originally appeared in Video Watchdog, Issue 168.
Humphreys has also written an informative essay on the making of Dr Phibes Rises Again, using interviews from a variety of sources, which can be found in the extensive bibliography in the front of the book. Plus, there’s two short pieces by Phibes enthusiast Mark Ferelli, including one about his amazing magic lantern show which I was lucky to have seen at London’s Horse Hospital back in 2005.
On the negative side, the book lacks the stunning design of LSoH, with a number of blank pages that could have easily been filled with more photos or some of the previously published sidebar features, as well as a couple of typo errors. A big selling point for me was the opportunity to see never-before-seen production artwork by Fuest from his personal shooting script as well as previously unpublished behind-the-scenes photographs. Well, there are only three scans of the shooting script (I would have like to have seen more), but there are some rare images not published before on offer, including James Whiton’s photos from the world premiere.
But aside from those couple of niggles what shines through is Humphreys’ incredible passion for the Phibes films and his admiration for Bob Fuest, whom he befriended while conducting his research. It’s what makes this book a phan-tastic companion to the LSoH celebration issue. Oh, and its thanks to reading this book that I have now tracked down a copy of the Great Organ Works LP, which not only contains Nicolas Kynaston’s rendition of War March of the Priests, but also his Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, which opened Amicus’ 1972 anthology Tales from the Crypt. Win win! I say!
Inspirational speaker and author Victoria Price will be a special guest at Birmingham’s Cine Excess cult film event that runs 8th – 10th November, which will honour her father’s work in film as well as his culinary skills.
A short season of Vincent’s films will be screened alongside a cookery demonstration based on some of the favourite recipes from his legendary book ‘A Treasury of Great Recipes’.
Victoria is also set to be presented with the Cine Excess Lifetime Achievement Award on behalf of her father on Friday 9th November.
Xavier Mendik , founder and organiser of Cine Excess says, “We are really excited mount this special celebration of Vincent Price’s career as part of our 12th annual event. Having previously hosted director Roger Corman who collaborated with Vincent Price on so many classic horror movies from the 1960s, it seemed entirely appropriate to dedicate this year’s event to such an iconic actor on the 50th anniversary of his chilling performance in Witchfinder General.”
Alongside Victoria, this year’s festival also hosts a visit by the British horror director Pete Walker, who worked with the Vincent on House of the Long Shadows (1983). Pete Walker will be presented with this year’s second Cine Excess Lifetime Achievement Award for his lifelong career in film, including Die Screaming Marianne (1971), Frightmare (1974) and the notorious House of Whipcord (1974). Pete Walker is also scheduled to appear at the event on Friday 9th November.
The theme of this year’s Cine Excess XII is ‘I Know What You Starred in Last Summer: Global Perspectives on Cult Performance’, with international academics presenting a wide range of related discussions alongside a specially curated selection of public film screenings and talks.
A full list of screening and events will be announced soon.
About Victoria Price
Victoria Price brings her unique story to the national and international stage as an author, inspirational speaker, blogger, designer, artist & art consultant, and interspiritual & interfaith minister.
Following in her father’s footsteps, Victoria has become a popular speaker on a wide range of inspirational topics, as well as the life of her famous father, Vincent Price.
Victoria’s popular blog, Daily Practice of Joy, chronicles the journey back to joy which began in 2011 – – the year in which the world celebrated the 100th birthday of her father, Vincent Price, with Vincentennial celebrations around the globe.
In 2016, after living in Santa Fe, New Mexico, for a quarter century, Victoria embarked on an ongoing journey of intentional homelessness, chronicled in her new inspirational memoir, The Way of Being Lost: A Road Trip to My Truest Self (Ixia Press/Dover 2018). A new edition of her critically-acclaimed biography of her father, Vincent Price: A Daughter’s Biography, will be released in November by Dover Press (and will be available to purchase at Cine Excess). Victoria is currently at work on her new book, Here Be Monsters: Inviting the Faith, Fear and Freedom of “I Don’t Know”.
Cine-Excess is an annual international film festival and conference, which is attracts global filmmakers, scholars, distributors and exhibitors to an event which features filmmaker discussions, a themed three day conference and theatrical premieres/exclusive screenings. Cine-Excess is open to the public (aged 18 and over), who can book can either book screening delegate passes for individual films, or full delegate passes for the conference, lunches and all Cine-Excess screenings.
Did you know that Castle Acre Priory in Norfolk was used as the primary location for 1964’s Tomb of Ligeia, Roger Corman’s last hurrah in American International Pictures’ Poe adaptations starring Vincent Price?
Founded in 1089 by Earl Warenne, Castle Acre Priory served as a Cluniac monastery inhabited by some 30 monks until it was dissolved in 1537 under Henry VIII, when it was turned over to Sir Edward Coke, whose descendant, the Earl of Leicester, now owns the ruins (under the administration of English Heritage).
Back in 1964, however, it famously stood in for the home Vincent Price’s tortured hero Verden Fell who, against his better judgement, takes a new wife – the headstrong Lady Rowena Trevanion (Elizabeth Shepherd), but is soon haunted by the spirit of his late first wife, the ungodly Lady Ligeia.
Roger Corman and cinematographer Arthur Grant (who was also a regular Director of Photography for Hammer Films) make great use of the Priory ruins, which haven’t altered a bit over the past 50 years.
To point you in the right direction, I have used a map which is available at the ticket office attached to the Priory, and used the same numbering.
There are a few long shots of the Priory (taken from No3 in the map) used throughout the film, with the last one being a matt painting.
Ligeia’s coffin is carried through (10), where the monks infimary chapel and ward originally stood, to where her tombstone stands (in an area that was the later infirmary). This is also where Rowena falls from her horse and where Verden and Christopher (John Westbrook) share some scenes.
Following the fox hunt, Rowena rides her horse from (11), the old latrine block, through (9), the former day room and dormitory, and into (10), the infimary, towards Ligeia’s tombstone. Christopher takes the same route following Rowena’s frightful first encounter with Verden.
VERDEN TO THE RESCUE
Rowena is carried by Verden through (6), where the Presbytery once stood, and (5), the Nave, and they stop at the main doorway in the west front (when Rowena takes off Verden glasses) befor heading into (17), the West Range and Prior’s lodging house. This area was used in a scene in which Rowena pays Verden a visit and a night-time shot when the couple return from their honeymoon.
Verden leads Christopher through (5), the main doorway, to show him Ligeia’s defaced grave at (10), the later infirmary, where he also voices his concerns that Ligeia’s spirit has returned.
TO THE BELL TOWER
Verden and Christopher run through an arch in (9), former the Chapter House, on hearing the tolling of the bells (after Rowena follows the black cat into the belfry).
In a scene that always reminded me of Alice in Wonderland, Rowena and Christopher take tea outdoors in (7), originally the Cloister. In the distance, you’ll see a power line and a plyon, which are still in tact today.
If you are ever in Norfolk, I do recommend a visit to Castle Acre. Of course, it wasn’t the only film location used in this classic Gothic horror – the others were Stonehenge, Polesden Lacey in Dorking, Surrey and St John’s Rectory in Wotton – and I’m looking forward to checking them out soon.
If you have any then and now pics (especially ones I may have missed) and you’d like to share them, then do get in touch. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with this lovely signed pic of Elizabeth.
When Jenny Hammerton at Silver Screen Suppers was preparing her latest cuinary adventures, Cooking with Columbo: Suppers With the Shambling Sleuth, she invited friends and fellow Columbo fans to test cook the recipes. Of course, I couldn’t resist – especially as one the episodes, Lovely But Lethal, featured Vincent Price alongside Vera Miles as the guest villain of the week.
Courtesy of Jenny, here’s the page for you check out, including the recipe, Vera Miles’ Mexican Casserole, and my verdict. You can purchase Cooking With Columbo from Amazon.
LOVELY BUT LETHAL – 1973
Anyone who wears an entirely white outfit topped by a pristine white turban is fine by me. The wardrobe department for this episode pulled out all the stops, and Vera Miles looks absolutely sensational in every single outfit. Vera plays Viveca Scott, Queen of Cosmetics, who is ruthless in her quest for the ultimate anti-wrinkle cream. Her business rival is played, with great panache, by screen legend Vincent Price, and the two of them take great relish in throwing insults at each other.
It’s an early morning murder-callout for Columbo, but luckily he has a hard-boiled egg in the pocket of his raincoat to snack on for breakfast. In the kitchen of the murder victim, he searches in vain for salt to sprinkle on his egg. Usually, he says, he carries a shaker in his pocket, but alas, not so on this occasion. Luckily for Columbo, while he is on his condiment hunt, he spots a clue he might otherwise have missed…
Beauty Mark is the name of Viveca’s cosmetics business. For British readers, a beauty mark is what Americans call a beauty spot. This might seem irrelevant, but nothing is lost on Columbo of course, and there is a clue bound up with Viveca’s beauty spot. Also worth pointing out to those not in North America, and too young to remember the popular 1960s song, poison ivy is a plant that causes a violent reaction when touched. Remember this refrain: “Poison ivy, Lord’ll make you itch!”
Viveca gets annoyed with the Lieutenant when he questions her about a romantic relationship she once had with the murder victim. She screeches, “I like young men Lieutenant, lots of them, and if that shocks your masculine double-standard, I’m sorry.” She thinks he belongs “in a museum,” but Columbo is not a judgmental man when it comes to the love-lives of his suspects. We know this from many other episodes.
When Columbo comes to search for evidence at Viveca’s health farm, he is suffering from poison ivy. She condescendingly asks him, “Poor thing, still worried about your itch?” But Viveca should be worried about hers. It’s the itch that will send her to the Clink.
In the newspaper article from which this recipe of Vera’s is taken, published in 1974, she is quoted as saying that she felt that there weren’t many good acting roles for women. “It’s a man’s world, and so many of the writers are men who write for men.” She must have been happy with this role in 1973 though, striding around her health farm in a bright, white jumpsuit, Viveca is the epitome of someone who “owns it.” Vera is a fabulous actress and one of my very favorite Columbo adversaries.
Viveca’s favorite tipple is apparently a tequila cocktail with organic cactus juice, so if you can get your hands on such a juice, that would be a fun thing to serve. It would fit with Vera’s Mexican inspired dish too. A super-cheesy treat with chilies.
Vera Miles’ Mexican Casserole
1 lb / 450g of Jack/Gouda cheese
1 lb / 450g of Cheddar cheese
6 eggs, separated
1½ tablespoons flour
Two small cans of green chili peppers
One fresh tomato, sliced
Dash of oregano
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F / 190 degrees C / gas mark 5.
Grate the two kinds of cheeses and mix together. Beat egg whites until stiff, adding about 1½ tablespoons flour for added body. Beat the egg yolks until fluffy and gently fold into the egg white mixture. Add a dash of salt to taste.
Chop the chili peppers. Vera says: “If you desire less of a hot taste, remove some of the chile seeds, as they contain the hot flavor.” Grease a large casserole dish that would serve about five people and layer a portion of the egg mixture into the dish. Next layer part of the chopped chili pepper, ending with a portion of the cheese. Repeat until ingredients are used up. Arrange the fresh tomato over the top, and sprinkle with oregano.
Bake for 30 minutes or until mixture is set.
Serves 6 (or more according to test cooks!)
Just one more thing… Stalwart test cook Peter Fuller, curator of the Vincent Price Legacy UK, made a rather deluxe version of Vera’s casserole, searing fresh chilies over a naked flame and scraping off the charred flesh before adding them to the dish. His feedback was as follows, “My tasters called it a glorified cheese toastie (grilled cheese sandwich), minus the bread. And I have to agree. It certainly should not be viewed as a main, rather as a side dish. I would suggest after baking, to cut it into small bite size pieces as a warm side dish, hors-d’oeuvre, canapé, or amuse bouche depending in what country you’re celebrating. As for reheating leftovers, this doesn’t work in a microwave as it turns into a slab of hot cheese. Best to reheat under a grill.”
I think it is fair to say that this is a super cheesy dish that might be TOO cheesy for some. Test cook Samantha Ellis’ husband, put it like this when he sampled a slice, “just tastes of cheese,” so you might need a big salad with a sharp dressing or a ton of vegetables alongside this dish to cut through the cheesiness.