Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Price is Right!

Right for a trip into

The Video Vault of Mora Tau!

that is!

It's a whole week dedicated to the "Vincentennial" - actor Vincent Price's 100th birthday celebration, Friday, May 27th, 2011!

Let's check out the man in action - with some primo video clippos!

The man was everywhere, it seems, so there are a lot of clips to choose from - I think we'll try a couple of longer ones and supplement them with some shorter bits. Actually, you know what, there's so much good stuff available, I'm going to load this post up!

 Let's start off with a terrific interview segment on the British show Wogan from 1982 - Terry Wogan interviews Vincent Price:

Let's join VP for one of his myriad sendups of his horror film stature:

ps - Vincent Price was not really known for playing vampires...but all in good fun!

Here's Vincent - a short film by Tim Burton - about a boy who's just like us: we all love Vincent Price! I think you'll find the voice of the narrator...familiar...

To me, one of the most fascinating endeavors Vincent Price got involved with was his Vincent Price collection of art, sold through Sears and Roebuck. I know this post is supposed to be video clips - but this collection was so unique - I want to devote a little more time and space to it. Here's a description of the program, straight from the Sears and Roebuck archives:

In 1962, art was not really new to Sears. As early as 1895, Sears offered oil paintings at prices of 90 cents and up. The services of many distinguished artists, such as Andrew Loomis, McClelland Barclay and Norman Rockwell had designed covers for the Sears catalog. Yet, company executives observed that except for a few major cities, fine art was virtually inaccessible to the general public.

    Sears set out to end this isolation by merchandising art throughout the country, in a presentation from which pictures could be readily purchased to enrich American homes. Vincent Price was approached to take charge of this program. Price, although well-known by the public as an actor, was also known in the international art world as a collector, lecturer, former gallery-owner and connoisseur who spent a dozen years studying art at Yale, the University of London and other art centers abroad.

    Price was given complete authority to acquire any works he considered worthy of selection. He searched throughout the world for fine art to offer through Sears. He bought whole collections and even commissioned artists, including Salvador Dali, to do works specifically for this program.

    At first, the idea of a large merchandising organization, such as Sears, maintaining a serious, top-quality art collection met with skepticism. But the public - and the artists themselves - soon learned that Sears would not compromise with good taste or artistic quality.

    On October 6, 1962, the first exhibit and sale of "The Vincent Price Collection of Fine Art" took place in a Sears store in Denver, Colo. Original works of the great masters - Rembrandt, Chagall, Picasso, Whistler and more - as well as those of the best contemporary artists at the time were offered for sale in this first exhibit and throughout the program's existence.

    Items ranged in selling price from $10 to $3,000. Sears customers could also purchase items on an installment plan for as little as $5 down and $5 a month. Each work in the program was guaranteed as an original work of quality, just as Sears offered quality guarantees on its lawnmowers and TVs. The program was an instant success. So many pictures were snatched up the first day that an emergency shipment had to be flown in lest the walls be bare the next day.

    The program expanded in the weeks that followed, adding exhibits in 10 additional Sears stores including Hartford, Conn., Harrisburg, Penn., San Diego, Calif., Evansville, Ind., Madison, Wis., and Oklahoma City, Okla. After the successful exhibition and sale of these first 1,500 pieces, the program was expanded nationwide to all of Sears stores throughout the country, bringing original works of fine art to the American public in unprecedented quantity and quality.

    Works from the collection were also offered for sale through a special catalog in 1963 and 1964. In 1966, the Sears Vincent Price Gallery of Fine Art was opened in Chicago, Ill., providing a mass audience for talented, but less well-known, young artists. The collection also held temporary exhibits in several hundred communities throughout the country and permanent galleries operated in several cities.

    By 1971, when the program ended, more than 50,000 pieces of fine art passed through a constantly changing collection into American homes and offices.

Here then is a segment from a film produced to introduce the Sears employees to the art collection, hosted by the man himself. Yes, it's a little over 10 minutes long - but you can always skip it if time is an issue. But it's a fascinating look at Vincent Price minus any of the horror trappings or campy comedy - here's a serious look at a devoted art connoisseur, trying to impart his love of the subject to others.

A couple more clips - we're still going to be under a half hour in total - even if you watch them all (I'm not counting your reading time). But you know - you don't get many chances to celebrate someone's centennial, so what the hey!

Here's Vinnie in one of his most fun roles - as the Batman villain Egghead, here teamed with co-villain Olga Queen of the Cossacks (Anne Baxter). In this shortest clip I could find, the villains are facing third season bonus Bathero Batgirl, but no Dynamic Duo.

And lastly, we'll keep the lights on in the blog with a commercial sponsor - in this case Polaroid, along with their spokesman - you know who - and their extraordinary new VHS cassette...take it away, Mr. Price!

Maybe this will be a post you can keep coming back to - check out a clip or two at a time! In any case, hope no one's been scared off, and til next post, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!


  1. I must say, your "Vincentennial" homage is terrific. He was such a prolific actor, and he never really gained the esteem he so rightfully deserved. From The Invisible Man Returns to Edward Scissorhands, his career spanned so many decades. As he was the "Prince of Horror," my favorite had to be House on Haunted Hill. The original far exceeds the remake.

    Oh by the way, I added you to my blogroll. Keep up the good work!

  2. Matty - Thank you so much for the kind words! Vincent Price is truly one of my absolute faves - had we not had one, we would have needed to invent him!

    And I cannot tell you how honored I am to be featured in your blogroll! I also need to get in touch to pick up my blog award from you! Watch for an email!