When it comes to versatility, Price is right By BOB THOMAS – 1988

Desert Sun 5 February 1988

When it comes to versatility, Price is right

By BOB THOMAS Associated Press Writer

Vincent Price
Vincent Price

LOS ANGELES – Vincent Price is a screen legend who manages to survive by being versatile. He is willing to spread his unique talent in all media. He was the ghostly voice on Michael Jackson’s hit “Thriller” album. He toured for years in his one-man show about Oscar Wilde. He appears on “Hollywood Squares,” TV talk shows and commercials.

Vincent Price – The Elegant Side of Evil
Vincent Price – The Elegant Side of Evil

He sang and devised villainous plots as the voice of Professor Ratigan in Disney’s animated feature, “The Great Mouse Detective.” Price recently has been in the theaters in two widely divergent films: “The Offspring,” a low-budget thriller, and “The Whales of August,” Lindsay Anderson’s drama co-starring Bette Davis, Lillian Gish and Ann Sothern.

Lillian Gish Ann Sothern Vincent Price and Bette Davis The Whales of August
Lillian Gish Ann Sothern Vincent Price and Bette Davis The Whales of August

Critics have marveled about such a galaxy of film greats, though some have carped about the dramatic values. At his home in the Hollywood Hills, filled with great works of art, Price reflected on his acquaintance with the great women of the screen.

Bette Davis Whales of August
Bette Davis Whales of August

“I worked with Bette years ago (1939) in a thing called The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex.’ with Errol Flynn. It was great fun,” he said. “She was wonderful and imperious. but of course she had a right to be: She was playing Queen Elizabeth I. The only person she didn’t win with was Errol. “People are always worried about her cantankerousness, but it’s consistent. She been that way for years She’s marvelous to work with.” He met Miss Gish when he was in “Victoria Regina” (1936) with Helen Hayes, who was a close friend of hers.

Vincent Price Whales of August
Vincent Price Whales of August

“Then we corresponded, and I still have all the letters from her,” he said “I admired her enormously, and I saw her on opening night of her first Broadway play she ever did: ‘Uncle Vanya’ with Osgood Perkins I happened to be at Yale, and I had enough money to come down to New York and see the play. It was a majestic moment to see this legend of the screen walk out on the stage for the first time.” At 76, Price was the youngest of the quartet.

Lillian Gish in Whales of August

Miss Gish is reported to be 91, though she denies it, Miss Davis is 79, Miss Sothern 78. How did he feel about working with such grande dames – “I found that the grande dames aren’t so grande when you get them on a set, particularly on a small island in Maine. Some of their grandeness disappears,” he said. “They were very down-to-earth, complaining a lot, as we all were. It was kind of a miserable location. The people on the island were wonderful to us, but it was cold.

Ann Sothern and Lillian Gish
Ann Sothern and Lillian Gish

There was no place to meet; at night you could only invite someone from their little cold cabin to your little cold cabin.” In “The Whales of August,” Price plays a Russian nobleman and friend of the two quarreling sisters (Gish and Davis). It’s a small role, he admitted, the kind he likes: “You don’t have to carry the picture.

You walk in, play your little scene and walk out with people remembering you. I notice that most of the lines critics quote were my lines. So I must have made some impression.” Comparing the two lead actresses, Price remarked “Bette is a very studied actress; nothing will happen that you don’t expect on the set. There are always surprises for the audience, especially in this kind of role “Lillian, being her age and always the ethereal kind of lady, had her usual quality. But what I liked in this role was the toughness you never suspected was there. (The location) was a little difficult because she’s a little deaf and a little frail. And I’m a little frail.

By BOB THOMAS Associated Press Writer

Friday, February 5, 1988 – THE DESERT SUN, Palm Springs, California

Vincent Price and Lillian Gish - The Whales of August
Vincent Price and Lillian Gish – The Whales of August

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Desert Sun 5 February 1988
Desert Sun 5 February 1988

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