James Mason revealed in his autobiography, (“Before I Forget)) that he had declined the role that Robert Ryan played in “Caught” because he wanted to “smash his villainous image.”

But in doing so, surely James gave up the better role of the obsessed, mysterious Howard Hughes type figure that Ryan got to play.

Robert Ryan, Barbara Bel Geddes, James Mason.


Barbara Stanwyck, James Mason

James called EAST SIDE, WEST SIDE, “weak and old fashioned.” 

Ah well, I like it a lot.


Edmond O’Brien.

He admired Edmond O’Brien’s performance as ‘Casca’ in JULIUS CAESAR (1953).

Apparently Joseph Mankiewicz wanted Richard Burton to play Marc Anthony, but Burton was under contract to the Old Vic in London.

Marlon Brando got the role and an Oscar nomination. He is pretty amazing with an almost flawless British accent. This MGM film was full of well known faces including Mason – in a sympathetic role as ‘Brutus ‘, John Gielgud as Cassius, Louis Calhern as Caesar, Greer Garson as Caesar’s wife, Deborah Kerr as Brutus’s wife.

Must watch it again.


Deborah Kerr, John Gielgud, Louis Calhern, Marlon Brando, James Mason, Edmund O’Brien rehearsing JULIUS CAESAR, 1953


Marlon Brando, Greer Garson, Louis Calhern.

Another lovely portrait by Morr Kusnet.

(Louis Calhern as Caesar and Greer Garson as Calpurnia, Brando as Marc Anthony.)


Always a good villain, and despite his reservations, James listed how he died in various films:

BOTANY BAY: Speared!




THE DESERT FOX: Suicide by poison.


Paul Lukas, Kirk Douglas, Peter Lorre, James Mason.


On the set. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.



A friend shared with me a note that he received from James Mason in 1984. James refers to touring half a dozen American cities with the newly lengthened version of “A Star Is Born”.

Mason died in July,1984.



Love this shot of Judy, James and George Cukor on   the set of “A Star Is Born.”

If it’s true that Cary Grant and Humphrey Bogart were offered the role of ‘Norman Maine’, I’m glad they turned it down.  Mason is perfect.


James Mason, Judy Garland, Sid Luft, George Cukor. A Star Is Born.

I think James as ‘Norman Maine’ was one of his best roles. Although Oscar nominated, it was his Julius Caesar costar, Marlon Brando who took the Best Actor Oscar for “On The Waterfront.”

(Mason was Oscar nominated in two other decades. For “Georgie Girl “ in 1966 and “The Verdict” in 1982.)


Fencing master Jean Heremans, James Mason, Stewart Granger on the set of THE PRISONER OF ZENDA. Love that severe Mason haircut! And yet another villain.


As Phillip VanDamm in NORTH BY NORTHWEST. James really was a superb  villain.

10 responses »

  1. He’s right up there near the top of my personal list of favorite actors. I think it makes sense his wanting to try to start off his Hollywood stint with something different even if, as you say, he took the lesser role.
    Anyway, great collection of pix.

  2. The first thing that caught my atttention about him is his distinctive voice. Have enjoyed best his roles as a villian. Best regards.

  3. Vienna, wonderful write-up and photo’s of one of the finest English actors of all time. My first memories of him are from JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH(1959), which I first viewed on TV in 1965. I could listen to read from the back of a can of soup. Great voice.

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