Thursday, 17 September 2015

Assembly line: Cutaway - The Drac Pack

What does the sinister aristocracy of Hammer Film's two most enduring film characters have to do with the glitzy celebrity of Jerry Lewis and Sammy Davis jnr?

Poster by Mad magazine maestro Jack Davis.
In 1969 Sammy Davis Jn and Peter Lawford filmed a sequel to their 1968 collaboration Salt and Pepper, called One More Time. Marking the directorial debut of fellow Rat Packer Jerry Lewis, this unremarkable film was written by non other than Jon Pertwee's brother, playwrite and screenwriter Michael Pertwee.
In a brief interlude from the knockabout plot involving  Lawford inheriting an English castle when his titled twin brother is murdered, Sammy Davis jnr discovers a hidden passageway behind a bookcase. Following it to the castle dungeon he is shocked to encounter Peter Cushing's Baron Frankenstein and Christopher Lee's Count Dracula.

"Aha, we have a visitor."

"Won't you join our little party?"
Hammer's Baron Frankenstein and Count Dracula, directed by, umm, Jerry Lewis
His character Charles Salt might flee in terror, but Davis jnr himself would have been in heaven.  He was a passionate fan of Hammer Films and adored the two iconic actors who gave these brief, uncredited appearances.  Peter Cushing takes up the story in his autobiography, Past Forgetting:
"The indefatiguable and extraordinarily talented Sammy Davis Junior, asked me if I would do him a favour by appearing for a few seconds in his 1969 production of One More Time, which would only involve a morning's work. He had already shown such kindness and hospitality to Helen and me: first night tickets for his shows at the Paladium, dinner afterwards at the White Elephant club, and endless appreciation for the enjoyment my performances had given him.  I happily agreed, and he took us both out to lunch when my stint was finished.  A fortnight later, twelve bottles of the finest champagne and a colour television set were delivered to our house in Whitstable, with a note of thanks from Sammy, and his director Jerry Lewis.
Moreover, when Helen was so ill, he sent her a large bouquet of flowers, with a little message: 'get well soon, love Sammy'."
The Candy Man Fan 
In The Christopher Lee filmography, by Tom Johnson, Mark A. Miller, Lee recalled: 

"Sammy was a tremendous fan of Hammer films. He'd seen every one of them and knew every part I had played. We became pretty close friends; and when he did One More Time he did ask me and Peter if we would do this as a favour for him, just for the fun of it and we did. Sammy was one of the great personalities of show business, and one of the most talented ... I always got the impression that Jerry Lewis really thought that this [cameo] was gilding the lily a bit...  but he gave in because Sammy said , 'This is what I want, and I am insisting."

"Marvelous actors and real gentlemen. It was a pleasure to work with those fine men."
Jerry Lewis
Sammy Davis jnr employed Lee a few years later to play Lucifer (who else) in a 1973 television pilot called Poor Devil. The 'Candy Man' himself played a lowly demon charged with winning the soul of Jack Klugman. 
Adam West also appeared. 
No, I'm not making any of this post up. How could anyone claim that Hammer Films, The Rat Pack, Doctor Who and Batman were ever connected unless it was actually true?
As for One More Time itself, I haven't seen it and am yet to even find a remotely positive review. Fortunately, almost the entirety of Cushing and Lee's appearances can be seen at the beginning of this trailer, so I won't ever need to.

No comments:

Post a Comment