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'.
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.
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…
‘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.
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
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.
'I don't think you should hurt or kill animals just to entertain an
audience. Animals should have some rights'
do I wish to be remembered, if at all? I think perhaps just as a fairly
desirable sort of character actor'
I forget' 1981
films to see:
Shooting party (1985)
The Verdict (1982)
Salems Lot (1979)
The Desert rats (1953)
A Star is born (1954)