Saturday, August 11, 2012

James Mason

James Mason (15 May 1909 - 27 July 1984). While he was attending Marlborough College studyingarchitecture, he also began performing in stock theatre companies for fun.

After Cambridge he joined the Old Vic theatre in London under the guidance of Tyrone Guthrie and Alexander Korda. In 1933 Korda gave Mason a small role in, The Private Life of Don Juan but fired him three days into shooting.

From 1935 to 1948 he starred in many small British film and became popular for his brooding anti-heroes in the Gainsborough series of melodramas of the 1940s: The Man in Grey (1943) and The Wicked Lady (1945).

He also starred with Deborah Kerr in, Hatter's Castle (1942). He then took the lead role in, The Seventh Veil (1945). He followed it with, Odd Man Out (1947) and his first Hollywood film, Caught (1949).

Mason's distinctive voice gave him the opportunity to play a menacing villains as well as leading man. His roles include Brutus in Julius Caesar (1953), Field Marshal Erwin Rommel in The Desert Fox: The Story of Rommel and The Desert Rats, the amoral valet turned spy in Joseph Mankiewicz's 5 Fingers, the declining actor in the first remake of A Star Is Born (1954), Captain Nemo in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (also 1954), Bigger Than Life (1956), North by Northwest (1959), Journey to the Center of the Earth (also 1959), Lolita (1962), Lord Jim (1965), the evil Doctor Polidori in Frankenstein: The True Story (1973), Salem's Lot, and Yellowbeard (1983).

One of his last roles, was that of corrupt lawyer Ed Concannon in, The Verdict (1982), earned him his third and final Oscar nomination. His final screen-work was playing the lead role in Dr. Fischer of Geneva as the eccentric wealthy businessman who played games with the Swiss upper class, such as offering gifts to his guests if they accepted some humiliating ritual activity (such as wearing a child's bib at the dinner table).

In 1975 he played Falconhurst plantation owner in the film, Mandingo. In the late 1970s, Mason became a mentor to up-and-coming actor Sam Neill. Late in life, he served as narrator for a British television series on the films of Charlie Chaplin, Unknown Chaplin, which was aired in the U.S. on PBS.


  1. Dawn , I've always liked James Mason, he's so bad in Lord Jim .My favorite is Journey To The Center Of The Earth,because my DAD designed the Foam Rock That goes after Pat Boone and splits in two. It was a very early use of Latex Foam in FX and set design, to bad he did not get ant screen credit for it or any his other work at 20th Century Fox, films or TV.
    I can tell you that he HATED working on Lost In Space He liked Guy Williams, but the rest of the cast not so much, and he hated Bully Mummy, and DR. Smith.

  2. James Mason is little by little becoming one of my favorite actors. The last movie I saw with him was 20000 leagues under the sea, and he really was great as Captain Nemo.
    Dis you submit this post to the Summer Under the Stars Blogathon? Because you really should, it's very good (and the picture with the cats just makes it better).

  3. I fell in love with James Mason's voice last year and am on a quest to see as many of his films as I can.

    I did think he was wonderful in "A Star Is Born"; however, I completely and totally adore Fredric March and have long-loved his version of the films, so Mason's just didn't quite do it for me.

    One of his most amazing performances was in "Bigger Than Life," where he is addicted to prescription drugs. Look for that one when you can.

  4. That voice, those eyes, the movie roles...great tribute to underappreciated James Mason - having his day today on TCM

  5. Paul2, I was only able to watch the first 15 min. of the film, Lord Jim. Then my Saturday, began a little sooner than I planned. Hopefully, I will catch it again on TCM.

    Thank you for sharing the very cool fun facts about your father. The next time I see the film, Center Of The Earth, I will keep a look out for the real star.. the foam rock.

    I think my husband(as a child) and his family were living in Death Valley, at the time when the TV show "Lost In Space" was filming on location("Pinnacle Peaks" just south of Trona, Ca. Here my husband went to school)

    Le, I have to admit.. I have not seen very many James Mason's performance, but.. I have really enjoyed the ones I have seen(North by Northwest).

    No, I did not summit any of my posts to the "Summer Under the Stars Blogathon", because.. I think they want to put up a schedule and I'm just winging it.. (depending on the films I happen to watch).

    Patti, I totally agree.. with you on the film, "A Star Is Born", Fredric March, hands down.

    Also, Thank you for the background info. on the film, "Bigger Than Life. "I will keep an eye out for it.

    LadyEve, Thank you for stopping by.


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