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C Entries
Edward L. Cahn
James Cameron
Lewis John Carlino
Richard Carlson
John Carradine
Helena Bonham Carter
Leo G. Carroll
Maurice Cass
Lon Chaney
Lon Chaney, Jr.
John Cho
Arthur C. Clarke
Phyllis Coates
Joan Collins
Sir Sean Connery
Roger Corman
Buster Crabbe
Richard Crane
Tom Cruise
Peter Cushing
 
CUSHING, PETER
(1913–1994). British actor.

SCIENCE FICTION, FANTASY, AND HORROR FILM CREDITS
Acted in films: A Chump at Oxford (Alfred Goulding 1940); Hamlet (Laurence Olivier 1948); The Curse of Frankenstein (Terence FISHER 1957); The Abominable Snowman of the Himalayas (Val GUEST 1957); Horror of Dracula (Fisher 1958); Revenge of Frankenstein (Fisher 1958); The Hound of the Baskervilles (Fisher 1959); The Mummy (Fisher 1959); The Flesh and the Fiends (John Gilling 1960); Brides of Dracula (Fisher 1960); The Risk (Ray and John Boulting 1960); Night Creatures [Captain Clegg] (Peter Graham Scott 1962); Evil of Frankenstein (Freddie FRANCIS 1964); The Gorgon (Fisher 1964); Dr. Terror's House of Horrors (Francis 1964); She (Robert Day 1965); Doctor Who and the Daleks (Gordon Flemyng 1965); The Skull (Francis 1965); Daleks—Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. (Flemyng 1966); Island of Terror (Fisher 1966); Night of the Big Heat (Fisher 1966); Frankenstein Created Woman (Fisher 1967); The Blood Beast Terror (Vernon Sewell 1967); Torture Garden (Francis 1967); The Mummy's Shroud (narrator) (Gilling 1967); Corruption (Robert Hartford-Davies 1968); Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (Fisher 1969); Scream and Scream Again (Gordon Hessler 1970); The House That Dripped Blood (Peter Duffell 1970); The Vampire Lovers (Roy Ward BAKER 1970); One More Time (Jerry LEWIS 1970); Shock Waves (Ken Wiederhorn 1970); I, Monster (Stephen Weeks 1971); Twins of Evil (John Hough 1971); The Bloodsuckers [Incense for the Damned] (Hartford-Davies 1971); Dracula A.D. 1972 (Alan Gibson 1972); Dr. Phibes Rises Again (Robert FUEST 1972); Tales from the Crypt (Francis 1972); Asylum (Baker 1972); The Creeping Flesh (Francis 1972); The Devil's Undead (Peter Sasdy 1972); Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (Fisher 1972); Horror Express (Eugenio Martia 1972); From Beyond the Grave (Kevin Connor 1973); And Now the Screaming Starts (Baker 1973); The Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires (Baker 1973); Fear in the Night (Jimmy SANGSTER 1973); The Satanic Rites of Dracula (Gibson 1973); Call Him Mr. Shatter (Michael CARRERAS 1974); The Beast Must Die (Paul Arnett 1974); Madhouse (Jim Clark 1974); The Ghoul (Francis 1975); Legend of the Werewolf (Francis 1975); Tender Dracula or Confessions of a Blood Drinker (Pierre Grunstein 1975); Land of the Minotaur (Costas Carayiannis 1976); At the Earth's Core (Connor 1976); The Uncanny (Denis Heroux 1977); Star Wars (George LUCAS 1977); Hitler's Son (Rod Amateau 1978); An Arabian Adventure (Connor 1979); Mystery on Monster Island (J. Piquer Simon 1980); House of the Long Shadows (Pete Walker 1983); Sword of the Valiant (Weeks 1984); Biggles: Adventures in Time (Hough 1986); Peter Cushing: A One-Way Ticket to Hollywood (documentary) (Alan Bell 1988).

Acted in tv: Nineteen Eighty-Four (tv movie) (Rudolph Cartier 1954); The Abominable Snowman (tv movie) (1955); "The Caves of Steel" (1964), episode of Story Parade; "Return of the Cybernauts" (1967), episode of The Avengers; "The Counterfeit Trap" (1973), episode of Zoo Gang; "La Grande Bretèche" (1973), episode of Orson Welles Great Mysteries; "Missing Link" ["Missing Uncle"] (1976), episode of Space: 1999; The Great Houdini (tv movie) (Melville Shavelson 1976); "The Eagle's Nest" (1978), episode of The New Avengers; "The Silent Scream" (1980), episode of Hammer House of Horrors; "The Vorpal Blade" (1982), episode of Tales of the Unexpected; The Masks of Death (tv movie) (Baker 1984); Doctor Who: More Than Thirty Years in the Tardis (tv documentary) (1993); Flesh and Blood: The Hammer Heritage of Horror (tv documentary; narrator) (1994).

 
The unknown wit who branded Hammer horror films as "horror films made by accountants" undoubtedly was thinking about Peter Cushing, the most visible and ubiquitous representative of the Hammer creative team during its formative years; but the comment is not simply an insult. Because accountants, contrary to popular stereotypes, are not boring people; rather, they are people who happen to be fascinated by phenomena that most people find boring, namely, the endless minutiae of process. To accountants, it doesn't really matter whether a company is managing the careers of glamorous stars or manufacturing bedpans, whether it is making tons of money or falling hopelessly into debt; in all cases, they find it equally engrossing to meticulously observe and record exactly where every dollar is coming from, and exactly where every dollar is going, immersing themselves in rapt, microscopic examination of all aspects of the business' daily routine.

So it was that Cushing, a marvelous embodiment of this philosophy, developed and imposed upon a series of films a unique and unsettling interpretation of the character of Dr. Frankenstein, whom he portrayed more often than any other actor. Although scripts fleetingly obliged Cushing to mouth lines to the contrary, his Frankenstein has absolutely no interest in playing God, advancing scientific progress, or improving the human condition; instead, he keeps making monsters primarily because he enjoys the process of making monsters. Totally indifferent to the results of his work, he naturally keeps making idiotic mistakes, and he naturally never learns from his mistakes—it doesn't really matter to him. After the damage has been done, he methodically extracts himself from the mess he has made, travels to a distant town, and, under another assumed name, once again throws himself into the pleasurable regimen of pouring chemicals into test tubes, turning the dials of electronic gadgets, slicing up dead bodies, and stuffing new organs into them. Truly, if Hannah Arendt had not coined the phrase "the banality of evil" after watching the testimony of Nazi war criminals, she might have done so after watching the Frankenstein films of Peter Cushing.

This dedication to craftsmanship did not serve Cushing well in another role he essayed more than once, Dracula's nemesis Professor Van Helsing, since he could not convincingly spearhead a moral crusade to rid the world of an intriguing phenomenon like predatory vampires. However, he was unusually well suited to portray Sherlock Holmes, a figure noted less for his passionate desire to track down criminals than for his delight in playing "the game" of catching them; in addition, despite complaints from some quarters, he was also reasonably good as Doctor Who, another man who always seems interested in what he is doing but does not always pay attention to the consequences of his actions. And Cushing was perfectly cast in Star Wars as a general of the evil Empire who is capable of supervising the day-to-day business of constructing a Death Star while utterly lacking in Darth Vader's ability to see the big picture.

Since Cushing was content to putter his way through life and through films, focused on the details of the moment instead of the big picture, and since he lacked the relentless drive to keep busy at all costs displayed by his frequent co-star, the enigmatically empty Christopher LEE, Cushing worked less frequently than Lee, but usually with more satisfying results. If not asked to display too much emotion, and instead assigned only to pay attention to the plot and keep it in motion, he could provide efficient, effective, even mesmerizing support, as shown by fondly remembered horror and science fiction films like She, Tales from the Crypt, Horror Express, At the Earth's Core, and Biggles: Adventures in Time, where his roles precisely matched his talents. His range was demonstrated at an early stage by his striking performance as Winston Smith in Nineteen Eighty-Four, where he was frighteningly persuasive as a minor bureaucrat in the Ministry of Truth, calming sitting in his cubicle and rewriting history, but theatrical and histrionic when called upon to make fervent speeches expressing his cravings for liberty and justice. Overall, one would have to say, his good performances far outnumbered his bad ones, and he made his films better far more often than he made them worse; thus, by a strict accounting, one must conclude that his career was a success.

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