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James Mason

James MasonI have always loved James Mason as an actor. Although he is probably best remembered for his big Hollywood pictures, like “North By Northwest,” “Lolita,” and “A Star is Born,” my favorite Mason film  is “The Seventh Veil“, featured here at CMF, in which he starred with Ann Todd and played the overbearing, cousin Nicholas, who loved, but domineered his ward, the concert pianist, Francesca.

Mason made over 130 films during his 50 year career and was voted one of the top 10 British Stars in 1944 and was voted as one of Britain’s Most Popular Actors in 1946. He has received many awards and accolades, but is still known as the “The Man They Loved to Hate,” because he presented a new kind of star to audiences because he was very unconventional and often played villainous characters. He died after suffering a heart attack at the age of 75.

Gifted with one of the most mellifluous and distinctive voices of his era, James Mason managed to convey volumes of emotion while often remaining surprisingly understated. Following some stage experience and roles in British B-pictures, Mason became a star in his homeland via films like “The Man in Grey” (1943), “The Wicked Lady” (1945), and “Odd Man Out” (1947) and was eventually lured to Hollywood. His performances in “The Desert Fox: The Story of Rommel” (1951), “A Star is Born” (1954), “North by Northwest” (1959), and “Lolita” (1962) ranked among his very finest, though like a number of distinguished British ex-pats from that era, financial necessity and a staunch work ethic sometimes landed Mason in truly awful tripe like “Mandingo” (1975). Fortunately, such embarrassments were almost always followed in close succession by worthy projects like “Heaven Can Wait” (1978), “Murder by Decree” (1979), and “The Verdict” (1982) that made excellent use of attributes that had long endeared Mason to audiences worldwide. Mason’s gruff, yet also uniquely velvety voice and cultured demeanor made him perfect to play aristocratic characters of both good and evil intent and his ability to add power or biting humor to even the most inane dialogue helped raise mediocre projects to the level of watchable. Although he sometimes proved more difficult to cast than other leading men, Mason’s uniqueness and versatility were his greatest assets and served him well throughout his career, particularly when he aged into being one of the finest character players in cinema.

source: Turner Classic Movies

6 Comments

  1. I like the English actor James Mason so much that I want to view all of his many movies. Plus, one day, I will be able to “imitate” his character!

    1. Jim, my favorite James Mason movies are The Seventh Veil, which is hard to find and Odd Man Out. He is mesmerizing in both. However, I pretty much liked him in almost anything he did.

  2. Is it POSSIBLE TO FALL IN LOVE AT THE AGE OF 2YRS OLD? BELIEVE ME, I DID, FOR THE CHARACTER OF UNCLE NICHOLAS, I THE 7TH VEIL. THIS CHARACTER HAUNTED ME `TIL I WAS 10. MY PARENTS TOOK ME TO SEE STAR IS BORN (1954). I WAS ENRAPTURED W/ JAMES MASON. MONTHS LATER I WATCHED AN OLD FILM OF HIS BUT, NOT RELIZING `TIL THE VERY END THAT MY UNCLE NICHOLAS WAS…MY OWN JAMES MASON. THIS LOVE AFFAIR HAS CONTINUED `TIL THIS DAY. I AM NOW 72 YRS OLD AND STILL CANNOT GET ENOUGH OF MY ROMANTIC AND ENRAPTURING HERO.

    1. Jmes Mason,such an underrated yet still mesmerising talent!Shards of his rich honeyed voice live on in Professor Bear,an English guy reading romantic poetry on Soundcloud!

  3. He is one of my favorite British actors! So Many wonderful performances! He can both give goosebumps and tug at the heartstrings! I’m partial to his epic portrayal of Captain Nemo in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. In Pandora and the Flying Dutchman and of course his sexiness in The Man in Grey, Fanny in Gaslight and The Wicked Lady can out-swagger Vincent Price!

  4. James Mason was such a wonderful actor in such movies as ” Travelling North” ( Made in Australia ) and of coures , “Pandora & The Flying Dutchman”.

    I was a young lad at the time, & all of Mason’s movies were magic

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