He was a popular leading man of the 1940s and 50s who made an easy transition to older roles, then character parts. But that thumbnail description doesn’t do James Mason justice.

Frank believes that Mason (outside of Charlie Chaplin, Laurence Olivier and Cary Grant) may have been the single most valuable English actor-import in Hollywood history. Disagree?  Let’s hear why.

Born in Yorkshire in 1909, Mason made a lot of movies in England before coming in the late 1940’s to do the same in Hollywood.  In all, there were sme 150 films and tv credits spread over a half century. (He died of a heart attack in Switzerland in 1984 at age 75.)

And no matter the role, Mason almost invariably delivered a solid, interesting performance. As the late New York Times critic Vincent Canby wrote, Mason is one of the very few film actors worth taking the trouble to see even when the film that encases him is so much cement. 

Talent, intelligence, versatility , independence and enterprise have made Mason’s career remarkable, chimes in British critic David Thomson

So let’s see how much you know about this superb English import. As usual, questions today and answers tomorrow.  Here we go:

1) Question: Mason won a best actor Oscar for his performance in which one of his pictures?  a) Lolita; b) Desert Fox; c) The Man Between; or d) None of the above.

2) Question: Mason worked with some of Hollywood’s finest directors.  Which of the following did he NOT work with? a) Alfred Hitchcock; b) Sidney Lumet; c) Fritz Lang; d) John Huston.

3) Question:  Mason strongly believed that A Star Is Born, in which he costarred with Judy Garland was easily the best of the three Hollywood versions of the movie?  a) True; or b) False?

4) Question:  When he was in his 50’s Mason was actually considered for 007 role in the James Bond series before Sean Connery nailed the part.  Also, he was considered for the same role in a tv series. a) True; b) False?

5) Question: Mason once said that HIS favorite stars were which of the following?  a) Spencer Tracy; b) Carmen Miranda; c) French actor Jean Gabin; or d) Veronica Lake.


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