James Mason
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He also played Rommel in the sympathetic 1951 film 'Desert Fox' and found further success as Brutus in ‘Julius Caesar’ (1953). In 1954 he made ‘A Star in Born’ with Judy Garland, bringing him the first of his 3 Oscar nominations. This success propelled him onto the Hollywood 'A list'.

The rest of the 1950s were a lean time for Mason until Hitchcock's ‘North by Northwest’ in 1959. Although his pride suffered at taking second billing to Cary Grant, ‘North by Northwest’ put Mason's career back on track. The comeback continued with Kubricks 'Lolita' (1962), a film that raised a few eye brows on both sides of the Atlantic and that saw him court controvesy with the moral majority. During the 50s and 60's Mason starred in a whole range of films, some good and some, well, no so good. He had a habit of working prolifcally and whilst this helped the bank account in did damage the CV.

The seventies and early eighties were fairly mixed for Mason. But there are two films that I would like mention. One was the unconventional 'Salem's Lot' (1979) where he showed his diversity playing in a conventional horror film with David Soul. Showing real screen presence and carrying with him a tangible sense of foreboding he really was terrifying in the role of Mr Straker. That said it will be the tapping at the window that every school boy fears…

Finally ‘The Shooting Party’ (1985), this was Mason's last film, and his was a part very well suited to him. In it he plays the kind Lord of the Manor. It may have been easy for him to fall into the role of sopppy fool but he avoids this admirably. The story...Mason invites aristocrats to his estate for a few days of shooting and these arrive, with their servants. These people are damned, in various ways but, more than that, a way of life that flourished for centuries is about to be extinguished by the slaughter of WWI. All through the film, our present day knowledge of what happened in the trenches is with us, affecting the way we perceive every nuance. The film makers were clearly aware of this, and take full advantage of it.

Throughout his career he remained a respected and powerful figure in the industry. His commanding voice and an uncanny ability to suggest rampant emotion beneath a face of absolute calm made him a fascinating performer to watch.

He mas married twice, firstly to Pamela Mason from (1941 - 1964) and then finally to Clarissa Kaye-Mason (1971-1984). He was also nominated for three Oscars and two BAFTAs but did not win any of these.

Quotes:
'I don't think you should hurt or kill animals just to entertain an audience. Animals should have some rights'

'How do I wish to be remembered, if at all? I think perhaps just as a fairly desirable sort of character actor'

Autobiographies:

'Before I forget' 1981

Suggested films to see:

The Shooting party (1985)
The Verdict (1982)
Salems Lot (1979)
The Desert rats (1953)
A Star is born (1954)














 

 

 

 

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