A Pearl of a Three in One (Vincent) Price…
Be seen as god or goddess in your film watching and the kitchen with these all-star, celluloid and culinary delights from Vincent Price and his co-stars.
Vincent Price’s Lifesaver Curry, The Vincent Price Legacy
Before receiving this book, I knew that Vincent Price was a celebrated actor – who had starred with everyone from acting talents from Peter Cushing to Agnes Moorehead and also with pop stars, Elvis Presley and the Bee Gees. Even more surprisingly, Price was also a gourmet cook – and author of a number of recipe books – who both aptly and bizarrely was the grandson of the man who invented baking powder.
Serendipitously, just before I read this book, I saw this actor don the chef and acting hats simultaneously as he relished and hammed up – puns intended – his leading
roll role in an all-star cast in Theatre of Blood (1973). In this British horror comedy film, Price plays actor Edward Lionheart who appears to have returned from the grave to seek an act of deadly revenge on all those writers who criticised his performances.
Each of the critics is destined to be a victim of a grisly Shakespearean themed murder. In one scene, Lionheart creates and serves up a pie to a toy poodle owner and food critic, Meredith Merridew (Robert Morley) with a couple of memorable ingredients. Then after Merridew twigs it’s his prized dogs he’s eating, Lionheart then force feeds him this pie in what you could say, a barking mad scene. This film also starred Price’s future wife, Coral Browne and a wealth of British talent including Diana Dors, Diana Rigg, Ian Hendry and Michael Horden.
As I like to dabble in both the kitchen and Vincent Price’s filmography, I was honoured when two of my blogging friends, Jenny Hammerton from Silver Screen Suppers and Peter Fuller from The Vincent Price Legacy UK allowed me to review their Vincent Price themed book. Their collaboration is found in Supper with the Stars with your Host Vincent Price (2021) which beautifully blends star biography, film review, photographs, caricatures and recipes in this treat of a book.
Anyway, this book – to my relief – does not include that dog-inspired film pie recipe, but does include that aforementioned movie (yay). Theatre of Blood is described in this book as “a horror filmed opus” and is reported to be Price’s favourite film from his versatile filmography. This book includes a heartwarming tribute to his co-star, the late Diana Rigg, this film and her biography which includes a selection of her appearances in both film and TV. Also added are her personal recipe for Beef Goulash and his for Pot de Créme Chocolat (Individual Chocolate Mousse).
This book comes with an excellent pedigree, as it was officially licensed by the Vincent Price Estate. So I knew immediately that it was something more than worthwhile that I could get my teeth into. Peter Fuller and Jenny Hammerton are a dream collaboration for all these subjects. Their mutual adoration for Vincent Price never ends and is felt throughout this beautifully detailed tribute to those stars which you’ll find much, much more than a celebrity cookbook.
This book I believe would have been one Price would have heartily endorsed as both a cook and an actor for its eclectic content. It serves up an array of fifty-two of Vincent Price’s film co-stars from his full filmography spanning from the 1930s to (and) including the 1990s. Fuller hints this book may have a possible follow up book and he notes it does have a weekly film and food inspired challenge. So this book is ideal if you are looking for a New Year’s resolution with 52 films and recipes, that’s one a week for a year. Each chapter relates to a different co-star and a movie that they starred in with Price and a wide range of film genres and recipe types have been selected.
The co-stars are written about in alphabetical order using the actor or actresses forename, from Agnes Moorehead to William Bendix. More acting – and cooking – talent in this book includes Simon Ward, Johnny Depp, Lana Turner, Shelley Winters, Ava Gardner, Charles Bronson and Peter Cushing. So you can read these chapters in order or just dip in and out of this book as you watch or remember the movies. The index helpfully names the co-star, recipes and film for each entry.
Each co-star is tributed with a mini-biography that delightfully includes both their individual film and television careers, a lengthy and detailed film review of the selected film and a recipe from Hammerton’s extensive recipe archive from the kitchen of both the co-star and Vincent Price. Hammerton also adds recipes from Price’s own selection of cookbooks.
These recipes are along with her own thoughts on this film, the recipe’s origins and her feedback from her worldwide test cooks. These individual test cooks who have tried and tested the recipe come from places such as the length and breadth of the UK, Australia, Canada and Germany. And eagle eyes might recognise a wee contribution from Finland as found on page 189. This as I joined this pair as a test cook for this tribute to Price, but more on that experience another day.
The text is accompanied by some wonderfully selected photographs of both the co-star and this film. This pictorial guide to the film is demonstrated with a full page of delightful stills from the film, along with international film posters and some charming behind the scenes photographs. This wonderful selection of photographs helped me put a film name to many a new film still I’d seen and loved. This while I’d researched Vincent Price for my Blogathon on this actor, many moons ago, and I was ecstatic to see there were also some pictures I’d not seen before.
In a unique touch, all-star caricatures and illustrations as created by the creatively talented artist, Ben Wickey are added to each chapter. His fabulous caricatures of Price are pertinent to Price’s appearance during the decade the film was released be it the 1930s and 1940s,1950s,1960s and 1970s or the 1980s and 1990s. These striking black and white pictures perfectly complement both the actor or actress in both their physical looks and features and my favourites included Charles Bronson, Bette Davis, Ian Ogilvy and Lana Turner.
The book also comes with a chapter named extra helpings – with some bonus recipes from others such as Peter Lorre -, a chapter on beverages – including a Bloody Mary recipe -, a US / UK weight conversion chart and a detailed index. The index categorises each recipe into different food categories so you can easily select the meal of your choice. These also have the co-star in brackets should you wish to select a particular star to emulate in the kitchen. The book also includes a list thanking all fifty-two of those test cooks – including yours truly – and a list of references for those recipes.
The book begins with a heartwarming foreword from Vincent Price’s daughter, Victoria Price. Victoria adds a lovely anecdote about her father where his joy of cooking and the connection between people it brings were recalled in a wonderful memory. This was as he cooked for both cast and crew on the Witchfinder General (1968) film set. She adds that her father would have loved this book adding,
I knew my dad would have loved their idea of combining food and film – through the recipes of friends. What could be better!
The themes of friendship and collaboration are felt constantly in this book in the team that is Hammerton and Fuller. Hammerton tells in her foreword of how she met Victoria Price at a horror festival and told her she had a recipe and film blog. In her blog, Hammerton was working her way through the recipes from one of Vincent Price’s cookbooks. Victoria then introduced her to Fuller. Fuller adds how as he lunched with Hammerton, and after looking at her recipe archive he spotted both Price and his co-stars’ recipes and he got the idea for this book which is;
In essence, a book fusing film legends with fab food.
I loved that those starry biographies included both those appearances in film and TV, this gave a rounded picture of their career. From Fuller’s passionate film choice and his intricate and compelling reviews, as a film fan and blogger, I got some pointers for films and TV to watch and review. These included those films with Price such as House of the Long Shadows (1983), The Monster Club (1981), The Bribe (1949) and The Whales of August (1987). And those TV Shows and films with co-stars without Price such as Falcon Crest (1991) and Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948).
All the selected films were vividly described in captivating reviews with enticing descriptions of his films such as A Comedy of Terrors as “a gleefully ghoulish slapstick” and TV characters such as Bewitched‘s Endora – played by Agnes Moorehead – as “a flamboyant witch”. Fuller also added a film, The Long Night (1947) where Price starred with Barbara Bel Geddes, which I as a Dallas fan will be hunting down…
There are yummy sounding recipes such as Vincent Price’s Pommes de Terre Savoyarde (potatoes in Cream au Gratin), John Carradine’s Washington Apple Pie and Basil Rathbone’s Curry. There are also a few references to other cookbooks from those co-stars, so you too can dine like Ava Gardner and Jane Asher.
Jenny thoughtfully adds suggestions of foods and wines which can accompany these recipes. She has selected a wide appetising feast of meat dishes, vegetarian delights, delicious sauces and scrummy puddings. These recipes often come with some warm anecdotes from Price’s co-stars. His Amicus co-star, Ian Ogilvy adds his recipe for a Turnip Soup – then he discloses he dislikes turnip – and Price’s co-star David Frankham joins the fun, after personally sending a recipe for inclusion in this book.
However just reading this book, I felt this book can also count, Vincent Price himself as an uncredited collaborator. His presence is felt throughout the book, both pictorially, anecdotally and factually. Within his sterlingly, well researched and vivid reviews, Fuller adds more on Vincent’s role and adds Prices his thoughts on this film and its production. There is a wonderfully selected recipe from Price’s own collection, often complemented with Price’s stories of where he discovered the recipe and his wee cooking tips which perfectly demonstrates his joy of cooking.
So I urge you to seek out this tribute to Vincent Price’s films and co-stars which is worth the Price alone (Vincent Price pun intended). This book has all the essential ingredients to your or your cinema and culinary obsessed companion’s library, where it really is a case of look who’s coming to dinner…
A disclaimer and personal thank you to Jenny Hammerton and Peter Fuller for allowing me to write this post. Financial compensation was not received for this post. I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. And if you want to order the book just click on Fuller’s site, HERE and make it quick as only 250 books are being printed. All opinions expressed here are my own. If you are involved in the entertainment industry and would like to be featured or promoted here, please drop a line to me via my Contact Me Page.
The Third Hammer-Amicus Blogathon 2021.
This book review was added – with Peter Fuller’s permission – to the upcoming Third Hammer – Amicus Blogathon which is from the 22nd of October for 3 days. Vincent Price starred in my The Bionic Woman review and his tribute in a blogathon is HERE. His Amicus films Madhouse and Scream and Scream Again are looked at in full in this book, in relation to this actor, co-star and their recipes. Chapters include Hammer and Amicus regular, Peter Cushing and specific chapters in this book on other Amicus and Hammer stars such as Simon Ward, Bette Davis, Terry Thomas and Joan Fontaine. Jenny Hammerton’s tribute to Columbo, as written in a similar vein is reviewed here in Cooking with Columbo: Suppers with the Shambling Sleuth (2018). Both writers also appear in a number of my blogathon pages from Michael Caine to Vincent Price himself.