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Classically Speaking:
Promoting Classic Movies in a Jaded World!

Monday, May 09, 2011


James MasonThere are so many showcases I'd like to make, but when I look over the filmographies, I end up knowing only four films, not five. This was not the case with James Mason. Here, I needed to narrow down my list to only five favorites. It was tough. Each film, I had seen, held a special place in my heart. I remembered someone who had watched it with me, a parent, a sibling, my husband, or one of my children.

When I think of James Mason, I think of his dashing good looks and his voice. There's a voice that men want to have, so distinguished, so professional and so attractive sounding. You've gotta love James Mason. Born James Neville Mason (1909-1984), JAMES MASON is one of the great English actors. He both British and American films. He originally intended to be an architect, but when he attend college at Cambridge, he caught the acting bug and gave up those plans after gaining First Class Honours. He became a prominent stage actor, accepted small film roles which quickly turned into larger roles in minor films, that grew into great parts and made him one of England's major film stars in 1940s. In the late 40s, he came to America with his wife Pamela and made film after film, establishing himself as one of the best performers on two continents. James Mason was the master of inner dialogue. He was sauve and calm and yet, you knew the words he spoke were not his inner intentions. He was great as the highly educated, villains and romantic interests. Where I saw him first, I cannot say. It may have been as Captain Nemo in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea or as Professor Oliver Lindenbrook in Journey to the Center of the Earth. All I know is in high school, I saw Heaven Can Wait in the theatre and recommended it to my friends. I mentioned James Mason being in it, before saying Warren Beatty. James Mason also produced, directed and wrote screenplays. He was often used as a narrator and appeared on many television shows. He was on the illustrious Ed's Sullivan's "Toast of the Town" twice and the mystery guest four times on "What's My Line?" He made several made-for-televison movies and was often asked to do theatrical productions for television. In 1956, he was the host of his own show, "The James Mason Show." I hope you'll watch the films I've suggested and look for others of this fabulous actor.

North by Northwest (1959)Haven't you seen North by Northwest (1959)? [aka: Alfred Hitchcock's North by Northwest (USA: complete title)] James Mason played Phillip Vandamm. This is my favorite of all the Hitchcock films. Cary Grant is protagonist. If you haven't seen this film, rent it right away. No one should go through life not having seen this film. It was one of the first I owned on DVD.

Watch this and then see these other four films.

Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959) [aka: Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth; Trip to the Center of the Earth] He played Professor Oliver Lindenbrook. I must have watched this film eight times as a kid. If it was airing on TV, I watched it. I was so happy when my younger brother loved the movie, too. For weeks, the two of us quoted James Mason, trying to sound like him.
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954) [aka Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (USA: reissue title)] He plays Captain Nemo. I remember watching this as kid and being unsure of whether Nemo was a good guy or a bad guy. You decide. Later, as a teenager, a friend of mine couldn't wait to share this film was airing on TV that night. We both talked about how much we loved the film. But, it was my friend who said it first, "I just love James Mason; don't you?" I told him I did and then we both grinned the rest of the day in anticipation.
Forever, Darling (1956) In this Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz fluff film, James Mason plays the Guardian Angel of Susan Vega (played by Lucy). My young daughter loved this movie. She had the biggest crush on James Mason just like Susan in the film.
A Star Is Born (1954) This is the first "musical" remake and stars Judy Garland alongside James Mason. Mason plays the Norman Maine. This film is considered by many to be one of the best musicals ever made.

*Contributed by: "Elizabeth Van Cleve Randolph" Date: Wed, Feb 14 2007 / 7:16:45 PST

Academy Awards®
© A.M.P.A.S.®
1954 Nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role: A STAR IS BORN
1966 Nominated for Best Actor in a Supporting Role: GEORGY GIRL
1982 Nominated for Best Actor in a Supporting Role: THE VERDICT


  • Speaking of Judy Garland, There is a popular new group on Yahoo called THE JUDY GARLAND EXPERIENCE.The group has rare audio files, photo's, lively discussions, and more! They just don't feature Judy exclusively. This week one of the audio files they are featuring is a recording of Tallulah Bankhead trying to make a record, and she can't sing, I mean the girl really can't sing!. Besides that, she is explicit, offensive, politically incorrect, and of course,wonderful. It's only about 8 minutes long but you get the full force of Tallulah's over the top personality. You should check it out. And if you are a Judy fan you have to definitely pay the site a visit.


    By Blogger Dan B (no, not Bennett, think harder), at Wed Feb 14, 09:11:00 AM PST  

  • Must agree with you, his voice was wonderful and commanding. I think my favorite was his roll in "The Verdict". He play a character that was just so...self-rightous. He had everything on his side and he knew he couldn't lose. Then when he realized he would lose, the tone of his voice...he was wonderful in that roll!

    By Anonymous Diane Crist, at Fri Feb 16, 07:50:00 PM PST