Was, as Frank theorized yesterday, James Mason artistically — and commercially — most valuable British import to Hollywood in movie history (aside from Cary Grant, Chaplin and Laurence Olivier)?
This was in our email box this morning, from Hollywood veteran and regular reader Graham Hill: Frank could well be right about James Mason… Although he was never a star the likes of Chaplin, Olivier or Grant …
Yes, he never quite achieved front ranked stardom of the trio mentioned above. But Mason rarely if ever gave a dull performance despite the fact that he was an exceptionally hard worker — more than 150 credits over a career lasting a half century.
And while some of that work was of questionable quality, much was supervised by the last century’s most demanding directors.
Hollywood was not unappreciative. Mason was Oscar nominated twice in the best supporting actor category for 1966’s Georgy Girl and for 1982’s The Verdict. Then there was his best actor nomination for George Cukor’s 1954 classic A Star Is Born, costarring Judy Garland. (There Mason is above drunkenly abusing Garland in the movie.)
Ok, let’s get the answers to our James Mason Quiz. As usual, to review the questions, just scroll down to the blog below. Here we go:
1) Answer: d) None of the above. As indicated in today’s introduction, Mason was nominated for three titles, but never won an Oscar.
2) Answer: As far as we know, Mason never worked with German-born Fritz Lang. With Sidney Lumet, he made 1966’s spy thriller, The Deadly Affair; with John Huston, Mason made the 1973 Cold War thriller, The Mackintosh Man; and with Alfred Hitchcock, Mason played the very nasty villain in 1959’s North By Northwest.
3) Answer: b) False. Mason believed that The Star Is Born with Garland was inferior to the 1937 version with Janet Gaynor and Fredric March, which he felt was better as drama. The musical portions of the George Cukor edition detracted from the whole, Mason believed. (We strongly disagree.)
4) Answer: a) True. Even though in his Fifties, Mason was pitched the 007 role as James Bond before Sean Connery nailed the part. Mason was also considered for the role in a 1959 tv edition, which eventually went to fellow British import, Michael Rennie.
5) Answer: Sorry, this is a trick question. Mason admired each. All choices apply. He obviously had catholic tastes.